NY Sports Day
Andy Esposito

Esposito: The Cubs Felt The Hammer of Thor

(Photo: Bill Menzel)

All of Asgard was pleased with Thor’s performance in Game 2 of the NLCS. Mets fans waved their hammers and orange towels as Noah Syndergaard dominated the Cubs for five and two thirds, yielding just one run before Terry Collins brought in Heimdall – in the form of Jonathon Niese – to shield any additional runners across the Rainbow Bridge.

For those not familiar with Norse mythology, suffice to say it was another Noah knockout, leading to a 4-1 victory to put the Metropolitans up two games to zip in the best of seven series.

On another very cold night, Syndergaard was still able to dial it up for 101 pitches, hammering out nine strikeouts with just one walk and three hits. Niese ended any threat in the sixth with a strikeout of Anthony Rizzo.

The Nordic hurler known as Thor was basically unaffected by the brisk conditions.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Syndergaard said after the game. “I wish I could have gotten ahead of hitters a little better, but it makes pitching a lot more easy when you go out there and your offense puts a three spot on one of the best pitchers in the game right now. Kind of takes a load off my shoulders.

“I feel like I battled the elements pretty well out there. It was a little cold, but I was able to stay loose in between innings and stay warm.”

The Mets scored all of their runs in the first and third, with every-day hero Daniel Murphy again featured with his fifth postseason home run after David Wright banged out a double in the first.

For the Captain, it was a resurgence of sorts to come through early. Wright had been mired in a 1-19 postseason slump.

“It felt nice,” Wright noted regarding his double to right center that wasn’t too far from being a roundtripper. “I’ve said all along I’ve had some poor at-bats, and some good at-bats where you have nothing to show for it. But through all of it, you try to grind it out and you try to do some other things. So it’s nice to be able to contribute early, especially off a guy that’s probably the frontrunner for the Cy Young.”

That would be Jake Arrieta, who pitched the Cubs into this position with one of the most amazing second halves a pitcher ever had. There’s a long page full of stats related to the year he had, which included a no-hitter on August 30 against the Dodgers. Those same Dodgers who took the Mets to a five game conclusion in the NLDS.

One way to look at the many accomplishments Arrieta enjoyed was that in his last 12 starts of the regular season, beginning on August 4th, he went 11-0 with a .041 ERA. Yes, there’s a zero there, and it was the lowest ERA by any pitcher ever from August 1st on since the ERA became an official statistic.

But it took the Mets just three batters to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Curtis Granderson singled through the hole at second base. Wright followed with that double. Then Mr. Can-Do-No-Wrong Murphy lofted a high fly down the right field line for his record setting home run.

Murphy’s fifth postseason homer now sets him apart from previous Mets who had punched out four home runs in any one postseason – Carlos Delgado in 2006, Mike Piazza in 2000, and Rusty Staub in 1973.

Murphy has homered in four consecutive postseason games to set another team record, and his five blasts in the seven postseason games he has ever played is greater than any major leaguer this postseason. And he trails only Ken Griffey Jr. and Carlos Beltran for home runs in the first seven postseason games of a career. They hit six.

Granderson had the defensive play of the game, robbing Chris Coghlan of a sure home run with leap over the right field wall in the second. It quickly stopped what could have been a quick comeback for the Cubs.

Night after night it seems, the Mets are challenged by a former or definite future Cy Young winner, and night after night, they’re beating them with regularity.

In Chicago, they’ll be up against Kyle Hendricks (8-7, 3.95) and Jason Hammel (10-7, 3.74), good pitchers who helped the Cubbies get to where they are today, but certainly not on a level with the big guns the Mets have been facing. Collins has Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz on the docket.

You never know, but the Mets might be coming home from Chicago with the champagne on their wardrobe.


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