This is not the NLCS of last October between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets at Citi Field. But it seems like a replay after the Mets 4-3 win over the Cubs Saturday night in Flushing and Sunday afternoon the Mets go for the four -game sweep with their ace Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
And it was not supposed to transpire this way because the Mets came home Friday night as a team decimated after a three-game sweep at the hands of the first place Washington Nationals. But, Friday night they scored 10-runs against the best team in baseball and then they beat the Cubs best pitcher, Jake Arrieta, the possible starter of the NL all-star game and the righthander who gave up four runs in 5.0 innings in game Two of the NLCS.
But in all fairness to the Cubs, who hold that commanding lead in the NL Central, they are destined to have their losing streaks. And it was the New York Mets again the past two nights at Citi Field with their dominant starting pitching that has come to the plate to go along with a bullpen that shut the Cubbies down in the late innings.
For 43-year old Bartolo Colon, now 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA in his last eight starts, it was another masterful performance before exiting after six innings because his left leg got stiff in the sixth inning. Hey, Colon is not a youngster and the way he has been pitching there is always room for an ailment or two.
“For now it hasn’t been bothering me too much,” Colon said through an interpreter. When you are throwing the ball as good as Colon is, a little soreness is not an issue. The more important issue for the Mets was their lack of offense on their most recent road trip that put everyone in panic city again.
Then there are the continued issues with Syndergaard and bone spur city on the pitching elbow, a similar issue but not as bad that is hindering lefthander Steven Matz.
But when it comes to Bartolo Colon, nothing seems to hinder him when he takes the mound. The curveball and changeup are consistent, and the fastball still has velocity that limited the Cubs to four hits and two runs. The only blemish was a long two-run homer to center field off a 1-0 pitch, the 20th off the bat of Anthony Rizzo in the fourth inning.
But, as so often seen, Colon (7-4) settled down. He struck out five and walked two. This was so much like October again and a playoff atmosphere of 41,151 fans gave Colon the standing ovation when he left the mound after finishing the sixth.
But, like October, the Mets handled Arrieta who is trying to solve his problems on the mound. Neil Walker got the Mets an early lead with his 15th home run in the first that went for two runs. Arrieta who appeared invincible got his first road loss in 14 months going 5.1 innings, on eight hits, and four runs and threw 35 pitches in the first inning.
He said, getting a first pitch strike is an issue, The manager Joe Maddon, who saw his team lose for the ninth time in their last 13-games, says it is mechanics and not an arm issue.
“We’re spinning our wheels a little bit too much trying to figure out what the solution is or or there a problem,” Arrieta said. “I just need to pitch better. That’s the bottom line.”
Colon on the other hand, there appears to be no problem. And for the Mets bullpen, with the exception of Erik Goeddel giving up the 11th home run ball to Ben Zobrist in the 7th inning, there are no issues. Jerry Blevins walked Jason Heyward and Addison Reed stopped a potential tying run from scoring by striking out Kris Bryant to end the seventh.
Then in the eighth to get the the closer Jeurys Familia, Reed struck out the side with fastballs after Anthony Rizzo singled through the middle. Wilson Contreras struck out looking, Miguel MOntero struck out swinging and Addison Russell swung and missed.
The ninth inning now belongs to Familia who is 28-for-28 in save opportunities when he closed the door and got the Cubs one-two-three.
“Everybody is doing their part,”said Familia. “He’s amazing (Colon) and we are better than that,” he said about the Nationals sweep. Reed and Familia have become a good tandem for Collins in the late innings as the Mets improved to 18-4 in one-run games, 11-4 at home.
“We want to finish if off tomorrow,” Collins said.
His team has that chance to make it look like October all over again if they get that sweep, and with Syndergaard on the mound,the home run ball, now six in two games, and of course with Reed and Familia, a four game sweep in early July is just as good.
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