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No comeback juice tonight

Tylor Megill had a rough outing that was made worse by his defense and the Mets could not overcome the deficit this time.

MLB: New York Mets at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets can only come from behind so many times. Tonight, another miracle comeback victory was not in the cards, as the Mets fell to the Cubs 7-2 in this series opener at Wrigley Field.

Drew Smyly—in the midst of a very strong 2023 campaign thus far—did not come out of the gate looking sharp right away. Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff ground rule double into the right field corner to open the game and Smyly issued a walk to Pete Alonso with two outs, but Mark Vientos struck out swinging to put an end to the Mets’ early threat. Smyly settled into a groove after that, making quick work of the Mets for the next couple of frames.

Meanwhile, after a quick first inning, the second inning ballooned into a disaster quickly for Tylor Megill, who gave up a solo homer to Seiya Suzuki to begin the inning and then issued a walk to Christopher Morel. Morel advanced to second on a groundout and to third on a wild pitch that Gary Sánchez—who did not distinguish himself defensively tonight—probably should have handled. Yan Gomes then hit a slow chopper to third, which Brett Baty was able to glove, but he did not make a throw to first base, allowing Morel to score and Gomes to reach on the infield hit to extend the inning with the Cubs up 2-0. That proved to be costly, as rookie first baseman Matt Mervis then took Megill deep for the second time in the inning and the Mets found themselves facing an early deficit yet again.

The only damage the Mets managed against Smyly came in the form of a long solo home run from Pete Alonso in the fourth that cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-1. But the Cubs added two more runs in the bottom of the frame to force an early exit for Megill, who was once again let down by his defense. Mike Tauchman led off the inning with a fly ball to left that should have been an easy out for Tommy Pham, but he dropped the ball and Tauchman slid into second safely. Megill bounced back to strike out the next two batters he faced to bring his strikeout total up to five for the evening. Mervis then singled, Nico Hoerner reached on an infield hit, and Dansby Swanson singled and all too quickly the Cubs were up 6-1 and Megill’s night was over after just 3 23 innings of work.

Dominic Leone managed to complete the inning and pitch the next inning without any further damage. The Mets had their best opportunity to get back into the game in the top of the sixth when they loaded the bases with nobody out on two singles and a walk against Smyly, which chased him from the game. Jeremiah Estrada came in the game to relieve Smyly and held the Mets to just one run on an Alonso slow grounder to third on which Brandon Nimmo was able to score the Mets’ second run. Pinch hitting for Mark Vientos, Daniel Vogelbach didn’t miss a home run by much, but both runners advanced on the warning track fly ball. Starling Marte then bounced out to short and the Mets were unable to cash in on the opportunity. The Mets got two runners on base in seventh inning against Julian Merryweather on a pair of singles by Tommy Pham and Brandon Nimmo—his third hit of the game. But Mark Leiter Jr. came in the game and got a big strikeout of the pinch hitter Jeff McNeil to neutralize that threat as well.

Stephen Nogosek was looking strong in his second inning of work until he gave up a solo homer to none other than Christopher Morel, who has homered in five straight games for the Cubs. Nogosek pitched 2 23 innings in long relief with Jeff Brigham recording the final out in the eighth after a throwing error by Brett Baty and a two-out walk forced Nogosek from the game. Michael Fulmer pitched the ninth inning for the Cubs, facing the Mets for the first time since he was traded, and tossed a 1-2-3 frame to seal the victory for the Cubs in what was a sloppy defensive game for the Mets that lacked the timely hitting they demonstrated over their now-snapped five-game winning streak.

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Box scores

Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Brandon Nimmo, +8.1% WPA
Big Mets loser: Tylor Megill, -33.4% WPA
Mets pitchers: -32.0% WPA
Mets hitters: -17.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo’s leadoff ground rule double, +6.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Matt Mervis’ second inning home run off Tylor Megill, -13.5% WPA