Mets sweep Cubs, advance to World Series – USA TODAY
CHICAGO â Breaking down Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Mets:
Mets 8, Cubs 3: Mets win series 4-0.
The final: Lucas Duda drove in five runs, three of them with a first-inning homer, and the Mets completed a sweep that sent them to the World Series for the first time since 2000.
Rookie Steven Matz threw 4 2/3 solid innings, allowing four hits and a run, and the Mets relied on their sturdy bullpen the rest of the way. They will open the Fall Classic on the road against the winner of the Toronto Blue Jays-Kansas City Royals series.
The sweep: New York pitchers limited Chicagoâs offense to eight runs over the four games, only once allowing more than two. The Cubs swept the season series 7-0 but never led in the NLCS.
Mets starters pitched to a 2.16 ERA in the series, and the relievers were just as effective. The only runs the bullpen allowed came on Kris Bryantâs two-run homer in the eighth, trimming New Yorkâs lead from 8-1 to 8-3.
The power-reliant Cubs were burnt by their inability to manufacture runs, although some of the credit goes to New Yorkâs power arms. In general, hardly anything went Chicagoâs way. In the second inning, Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch but called for a third strike as he swung and missed while getting out of the way.
Two innings later, with the bases loaded and no outs as the Cubs attempted to dig out of the early hole, Castro hit a screaming liner that found the glove of a leaping David Wright at third. The rally produced just one run.
Pivot point: Dudaâs first swing. The lefty-hitting first baseman worked the count to 3-2 and then whacked a 94-mph fastball from Jason Hammel over the fence in center to put the Mets ahead 3-0, stunning a capacity crowd just starting to settle in. Travis dâArnaud followed with a solo shot as the Mets increased their number of first-inning runs in the series to nine. New York scored in the opening frame in each of the four games.
Dudaâs two-RBI double in the second broke open the game, making it 6-0. Duda was batting .125 and had driven in just one run in eight playoff games coming in, but he broke out at an opportune time. Duda is no stranger to RBI barrages. In late September, he drove in 15 runs in a four-game span.
Man of the moment: The irrepressible Daniel Murphy, who was named the MVP of the series. It didnât have a big impact on the final outcome, but yes, Murphy went deep again, taking a Fernando Rodney offering over the wall in center to increase New Yorkâs lead to 8-1 in the eighth. Murphy, certain to be named the series MVP, homered in every game of the series and has gone yard in six games in a row, setting a postseason record. Not only that, he had a double and two singles to finish 4-for-5, hiking his NLCS batting average to .529.
Rookie pitches in: Matz acquitted himself very well despite coming up an out short of qualifying for the win. The hard-throwing left-hander did not allow a hit until Jorge Soler led off the fourth with a double, and he preserved the comfortable margin until Bartolo Colon replaced him with two outs in the fifth.
Matz, who made his major league debut June 28 and missed time due to injuries, started only six games in the regular season, the second-fewest number ever for a pitcher starting in a league championship game for the first time. He had taken the loss in his one start in the Division Series after giving up three runs in five innings and was sharper on Wednesday.
Needing a mulligan: Hammel. Entrusted with the task of keeping the Cubs alive â or at least giving them a fighting chance â the veteran right-hander coughed up that brutal first inning. The Mets batted around in the first and Hammel was gone after walking Wright with one out in the second. The crowd was not sympathetic, showering Hammel with boos amid a sprinkling of cheers.
Managers special: Terry Collins managed as if his team were down 3-0 in the series, not the other way around. With the Mets ahead 6-1 in the fifth, Matz got the first two batters out before yielding back-to-back singles. Out came Collins, who replaced him with Bartolo Colon. The veteran bridged the gap with the late crew by throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out Bryant to quell the threat in the fifth.
The Mets also continued to run the bases aggressively, stealing twice in the first inning, even with the pitcher at the plate.
What you missed on TV: The curious sight of a holdout building on Waveland Avenue without rooftop seating. The rooftop stands were packed on the buildings to both sides of the brown holdout, which sits directly behind the foul line in left field and would have a mostly unobstructed view to the field. The locals say the owner doesnât want to deal with the hassle.
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