At least it only took 9 innings…
The Mets (28-30) fell to the Cubs (21-34) by a score of 2-1 on Tuesday night in Chicago.
Zack Wheeler got the start for the Mets and was fantastic, striking out 7 in 6.2 scoreless innings and allowing only 2 hits and 2 walks. Wheeler threw 107 pitchers before making his departure.
The Mets scored in the top of the first after Matt den Dekker (who saw Jacob deGrom‘s 2 lower-case letters and raised him a 3rd) led off with a single, stole 2nd, took 3rd on a wild pitch, and came home on a sacrifice fly from Curtis Granderson.
The Mets had another opportunity in the 3rd, when Daniel Murphy singled and David Wright walked to lead off the inning. Granderson lined one into right-center for a single, but Murphy got a terrible read on the ball and was forced to hold at third. Chris Young grounded one to first and Anthony Rizzo fired it home to get the force on Murphy, Lucas Duda popped out, and Chicago starter Jake Arrieta snared Flores’ sharp line drive up the middle to get out of another jam.
The Mets tried again in the 4th, getting a leadoff single from TDA and a sacrifice bunt from Wheeler to set the table for the top of the order, but MDD struck out and Murphy flew out to strand Travis in scoring position.
New York took another hack at it in the next inning, when Grandy singled up the middle and stole second, but after Duda walked, Flores whiffed to keep it a 1-0 ballgame.
The Cubs got a leadoff baserunner in the bottom of the 5th when Nate Schierholtz singled up the middle, but d’Arnaud gunned him down at 2nd base a pitch later on a failed hit-and-run attempt.
The Mets finally went down 1-2-3 in the 6th, and James Russell worked around Granderson’s 3rd hit of the night in the top of the 7th to send the 2 teams into the 7th-inning stretch with the Mets still leading 1-0.
Wheeler got 2 quick outs in the bottom of the 7th, but after he issued a walk to Luis Valbuena, Terry Collins pulled him and brought in Josh Edgin. Edgin did his job, fanning Nate Schierholtz to retire the side and close the book on Wheeler.
Edgin came back out to pitch the top of the 8th and face lefty Chris Coghlan, who had not homered off of a lefty in 4 years. Of course, Coghlan promptly homered off of a lefty, sending Edgin’s pitch over the ivy in left-center to tie the game and take away Wheeler’s chance at getting a win. Vic Black came in for Edgin and got a couple strikeouts to end the inning, but the damage had been done.
The Mets tried to get the lead back in the top of the 9th, but after MDD singled through the hole on the left side, Murphy hit into a double-play to retire the side.
Scott Rice came in for the bottom of the 9th and got himself into trouble by allowing a leadoff single to Rizzo. The next hitter, Starlin Castro, hit a hard grounder to Wright at 3rd that seemed like a sure double-play, but the Captain bobbled it and was only able to get the out as 1st as Rizzo moved into scoring position with the winning run. Rice struck out Valbuena for the 2nd out, but on an 0-2 count, Schierholtz lined one into right field to bring home Rizzo and give the Cubs a win.
The Mets had better not get swept. That was my first reaction to the loss… they came into this series hot and lost a game they should have won… now they have to bounce back quickly.
As for this game, the fact that we scored just 1 run is unbelievable, yet at the same time, so predictable. How many times have we loaded the bases, only for Chris Young to let us down? How many times has the 8th hitter come up, gotten out, and handed it over to the pitcher for an automatic 2nd out that puts all the pressure on our leadoff guy? How many times have we flown out with the bases empty and then failed to make contact when all we need is a sacrifice fly to get a run home?
And how many times, over the years, have we seen a pitcher turn in a fantastic effort and get nothing to show for it? Pedro, Johan, Harvey, deGrom… today was Wheeler’s initiation. Welcome to the club, Zack. There is no escape.
And how many times have we failed to turn a double-play on what should have been an automatic 2? Wright was the culprit this time… look for Murphy to answer back tomorrow.
The Mets got lucky in Philly, finding ways to win while seemingly trying to lose. But just like in the 14-inning loss on Saturday, they ran out of magic tricks in this contest, and they were unable to pull out a victory.
Also, the Cubs really fill up their stadium. The Wilpons must be envious of the Cubs’ ability to sell tickets without giving people much of a reason to buy them…
This loss was frustrating, guys. Let’s hope the Mets can turn it around next time.