Flushing, NY—Excellent pitching and timely hitting along with the ability to draw walks gave the Mets their second consecutive victory over the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. Interestingly, the Mets won both games with only the need for four hits in each.
The Mets needed only two multi-run innings on Saturday to accumulate seven runs for the 7-3 win. That number of runs was their highest total in a single game since July 30.
A walk to lead-off batter Lucas Duda began the three run second frame for the Mets. The rally intensified with a single by Matt den Dekker, who was recalled by the Mets one week earlier. A ground-rule double by Juan Lagares drove in the first run of the game, and a single through the middle by Wilmer Flores knocked in two additional runs.
The only other hit by the Mets, a single by Travis d’Arnaud, came in the four run sixth. David Wright was hit by a pitch with one out. Wright was immediately removed from the contest with posterior soreness in the left shoulder. The Met captain commented, “It just got me in a spot that’s been bothering me, just unlucky.” The third sacker may be benched for a day or two, according ro manager Terry Collins.
Duda then drew a walk. D’Arnaud’s single loaded the bases. A walk to den Dekker led to the first score of the inning. A sacrifice fly by Lagares that was dropped by rookie center fielder Arismendy Alcantara led to two more scores. The final Met run of the game was driven in on a groundout to first by Mets starter Jonathon Niese.
Niese, in his sixth start since coming off the disabled list on July 21, pitched brilliantly during the first six innings. He gave up only two hits,, a single to lead-off the fourth by rookie Javier Baez and a lead-off home run by Wellington Castillo in the fifth.
His work in the seventh was inexplicable. Justin Ruggiano homered to center on a 1-0 pitch to begin the inning. Each of the next four batters singled. Niese was replaced by reliever Vic Black with two runs scored, the bases loaded and no outs. Collins had no answer for the change in Niese, “I don’t know what happened in the seventh inning.”
Facing the tying run at the plate three times, Black retired each of the batters to end the inning. Niese, whose win was eventually saved, remarked, “I appreciate it.” The three batters raised Black’s total of stranding inherited runners to 20.
Collins was profuse in his praise of the 26 year-old relief pitcher, “The job he’s done with men on base is amazing. He pitched brilliantly. He’s not afraid to fail. The guy does a better job with men on base than starting an inning.”
Black told reporters these situations “are things I’ve done, I’ve seen.” He explained that in his third outing as a college freshman he came in with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Many of the large crowd of 30,744 remained to see the entertaining concert by Boys II Men that followed the game.
Jake Arrieta (Cubs) and Rafael Montero (Mets) will be the starters in the Sunday matinee at Citi Field.