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Mets bats stymied by Hendricks and the Cubs’ bullpen in series finale

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Marcus Stroman put forth a strong performance on the mound, but the Mets could not give him any run support.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets were unable to complete a sweep of the Cubs, losing 2-0 in a game dominated by pitching at Citi Field.

Marcus Stroman’s only mistake came early in the game. After giving up a one-out single to Kris Bryant, who seemed none the worse for wear after being hit in the hand with a pitch yesterday, Stroman surrendered a two-run homer to Javy Báez that landed in the well of the Home Run Apple to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. In fact, Stroman was a bit lucky that Anthony Rizzo did not go back-to-back with Báez, as he flew out to warning track on the very next at-bat.

But as it turns out, the two-run blast by Báez provided all the run support Kyle Hendricks would need. The Mets got a few men on base early against Hendricks, but could not capitalize on their opportunities, which disappeared entirely in the later innings. Jonathan Villar started things off with a leadoff double for the Mets in the bottom of the first, but Hendricks struck out Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso back-to-back and then Dominic Smith lined out to Rizzo at first to end the threat.

The Mets’ only other hit of the evening came in the bottom of the second when Billy McKinney hit a one-out double to left-center. But Hendricks retired Kevin Pillar on a line out and José Peraza on a strikeout to get out of the inning. The Mets’ best opportunity to score came in the fourth, when Hendricks walked Alonso and Smith back-to-back to lead off the inning—a rare occurrence for a strike-thrower like Hendricks. But James McCann killed the rally by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. McKinney followed with a slow dribbler in front of the plate to end the inning.

Both pitchers completely settled in after that. Stroman notched his first 1-2-3 inning of the night in the fifth, aided by a leaping grab near the center field wall by Kevin Pillar on a long fly ball off the bat of Joc Pederson. Stroman was assisted by his defense again in seventh, when Sergio Alcántara hit a scorching liner that Pete Alonso did an excellent job to snag and then dove to first base, tagging the base with his glove to beat the speedy Alcántara to the bag. Stroman came running over to Alonso to show his appreciation, beating the chest of his first baseman while he was still on the ground, making for a fun celebratory moment. Unfortunately for the Mets, that was pretty much the only highlight-worthy moment of the night, alongside Stroman’s eight strikeouts over seven innings of work.

Meanwhile, Hendricks retired the last eight batters he faced, ending his night with six shutout innings. The Cubs’ bullpen—with their top relievers well-rested—picked up right where Hendricks left off. Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, and closer Craig Kimbrel each pitched a 1-2-3 inning in relief of Hendricks to secure the victory for the Cubs. Hendricks and the bullpen combined to retire the last 17 Mets in order.

The Mets’ bullpen had a strong showing in this contest as well, holding the Cubs to just the two runs. After pinch hitter Ian Happ reached on an error by Francisco Lindor to lead off the eighth, Jeruys Familia got Pederson to ground into a force out and induced a double play grounder from Kris Bryant to get out of the inning. In the ninth, Trevor May delivered his second consecutive strong performance after being mired in a rough patch of late. He set the Cubs down 1-2-3 in the frame with one strikeout.

But the bench mob did not have any comeback magic in them tonight and the Mets drop this final game of a four-game set in Queens. But they still head out on the road having taken five out of seven games from the Padres and Cubs at Citi Field. The Mets will open a four-game weekend series (which includes a doubleheader on Saturday) with the Nationals in Washington DC with Joey Lucchesi facing off against Erick Fedde tomorrow night.

*illar of the game

Jonathan Villar: Responsible for one of the two Mets hits on the night (leadoff double in the first inning)

Box scores

ESPN
MLB

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Marcus Stroman, +2.6% WPA
Big Mets loser: James McCann, -18.9% WPA
Mets pitchers: +6.3% WPA
Mets hitters: -56.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dominic Smith walks in the bottom of the fourth, advancing Pete Alonso to second, +7.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Javy Báez’s two-run homer in the first inning, -18.5% WPA

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