If anyone knows how to sweep the Cubs in four games, it’s the Mets. The Amazins bounced back from a three-game sweep at the hands of the Nationals to beat up the struggling Cubs in four straight, capped off with a 14-3 pummeling of Jon Lester on Sunday.
YOU GET A HIT! AND YOU GET A HIT! AND YOU GET A HIT!
The Mets may have knocked around the best pitcher of the past 18 months on Saturday, but that didn’t make their task on Sunday any easier. While the Mets tagged Jake Arrieta for four runs in 5.1 innings for their win on Saturday, they faced a surging Jon Lester on Sunday. In Lester’s previous seven games, he had thrown 51 innings, given up eight earned runs, and put up a 51/9 K/BB ratio. Granted, he did so against some of baseball’s worst offenses, such as the Phillies, Braves and Reds, but the veteran lefty had given up more than three runs only once this season.
Make that twice. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Curtis Granderson launched a home run to left center to tie the game at one, a preview of the explosions of the second inning. Those explosions began with Wilmer Flores, who led off the inning with a home run, the first of the two home runs and six hits he would collect during the game.
After a James Loney strikeout, the hit parade resumed. Matt Reynolds doubled and Rene Rivera smacked a home run over the 370 sign. The hapless Lester failed to take advantage of the 1-2 count he worked against Noah Syndergaard, walking the opposing pitcher. Juan Lagares doubled, Granderson singled, Yoenis Cespedes singled, Neil Walker singled, and Flores singled.
At this point, with one out in the bottom of the second inning, the game was 8-1, and with Syndergaard on the mound, it was effectively over. Joe Maddon yanked Lester for journeyman Spencer Patton, who snuck out of the inning with no more runs.
The Mets continued to pile on, tacking on six more for their biggest offensive outburst since a 16-7 shellacking of the Phillies on August 24, 2015. Flores delivered two of those runs in the fifth inning with a two-run shot. Flores became just the second Met to smack 6 hits in a game, matching a feat that fellow Met infielder Edgardo Alfonzo accomplished August 30, 1999. Kelly Johnson also hit a two-run shot of his own.
THOR THROWS THE HAMMER
Mets fans held their breath as Thor took the mound, but they breathed a (partial) sigh of relief when he poured in a 98 mile-per-hour sinker to Ben Zobrist for his first pitch of the game. Their shoulders continued to ease with each high-90s or triple digit pitch launched from that valuable right arm.
However, Syndergaard did start out shaky, as he allowed a run in the top of the first on a Jason Heyward double and Anthony Rizzo single. But as the game went on, he only got better. After allowing a single to Javier Baez to lead off the second, Syndergaard caught him leaning and picked him off. Syndergaard would go on to retire the next 11 batters he faced, five of which came via the strikeout. He had a bit tougher time getting through the sixth and the seventh, allowing four hits in those two innings, but he scooted through to finish his outing with eight strikeouts, seven hits, no walks, and one run in seven innings.
Syndergaard’s stuff looked unhittable, as usual, helping to assuage fans and team alike about the health of his arm. His fastball averaged its usual 99, his sinker its usual 98, and his hard slider sat at 91. Cubs batters whiffed on nine of the 14 Syndergaard sliders they swung at.
HITTERS PITCHING AND PITCHERS HITTING, OH MY!
Down 13-3, the Cubs sent in catcher Miguel Montero to pitch with two outs in the seventh inning. He promptly hit Rivera with a pitch. After escaping the inning unscathed, Miggy pitched to none other than Jacob deGrom, pinch-hitting for Granderson. After a four-pitch at bat, the former college shortstop flew out to left field.
Montero’s low-80s fastball was enough to handle deGrom, but wasn’t enough to stop three straight hits by Johnson, Flores and Loney and another Mets run. However, that was all they would get. The catcher finished his first career pitching appearance with a solid 1.1 innings pitched and one run allowed.
Photo credit: Andy Marlin – USA Today Sports