I wish Frank Sinatra were alive to see this Series. It is only fitting as he sang two of the greatest 20th Century pop standards that are affiliated with the two cities squaring off in the 2015 NLCS. New York and Chicago are two of the crowning cities of the United States, contributing so much to the history and the development of the nation. No slight to the ALCS, but midwestern Kansas City can’t hold a candle to either metropolis, and Toronto is not an American city! So can we say that the NLCS rules the post-season right now?
Give Joe Maddon, the Cubbie skipper, kudos for attempting to keep his young team focused on his Zenlike game-by-game approach to the Series. Two down doesn’t matter, Joe says. Rather, the goal is to win three games, one by one. Will it work? We shall know soon when Mets ace Jacob deGrom, The Hair, squares off against Kyle Hendricks. For once the Mets won’t be facing an All Star, a Cy Young or future Cy Young Award winner, but simply a good pitcher in a starting rotation. But the fact is the Cubs will be at Wrigley Field, where they were very successful this year and where their fans will be waving towels that are red or white and not orange.
Game 2 Recap: It was all Noah. What Syndergaard aka Thor brought to LA in the 7th inning of Game 5 of the NLDS, he pulled out again for nearly 6 innings of 3-hit, 1 earned run masterful pitching in Game 2 of the NLCS. Those speaking about the pop in the bats of the Cubs young stars (Schwarber, etc), instead witnessed another well-timed pop by Daniel Murphy and deep shot by the Captain in the bottom of the first. Wright Wreturned at the perfect moment. The Mets socked Cubs ace Jake Arrieta for 3 in the first inning and it was all the offense they needed.
Credit must also be given the outstanding bullpen that Collins put together for the innings leading to the 9th, when the Saver, or Savior?, Jeurys Familia, entered to slam the door on the Cubs. A few months ago if you had told me that Jonathan Niese, Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard would combine to not only hold a lead, but to shut down the Cubs in the post-season, I would have laughed. Not anymore. The Mets are working on all (or most) cylinders, taking down outstanding and award-winning pitchers (Kershaw, Greinke, Lester, Arrieta), getting timely hits in the clutch, showing power, and pulling out the stops on defense as well. Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy are the most complete players they have been all season, which is critically important as, with rare exceptions for Wright, Wright’s and Duda’s bats are doing something else other than hitting.
Why the Mets Will Win Game 3:
What more to say about deGrom, deCalm, daHair. This man has been Mr. Reliable in the post-season, reviving memories for longstanding and grayer members of the Mets faithful of Seaver and Gooden and other post-season Assassins on the Mound.
2. Grandy, Dandy, Sandy? Expect more of the same from Grandy and Murphy/Dandy in Chicago. I don’t think the setting will affect their bats. At this point it’s time to give a shout out to Sandy (Alderson) because teams simply do not simply appear on the field. Teams are built and rights are purchased and this particular team (with Cespedes, namely, starting the Mets Fire in late July) would not be on the field in this configuration with this potential without Sandy and the Mets Front Office.
Oops, wrong one. That is La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
This is the right one, Jeurys Familia, very sacred to the Mets in this post-season.
Familia has been lights out and flat out elite this post-season, consistent with his performance in the regular season. Think of a Mariano Rivera wearing a Mets uniform instead of pinstripes. I expect that his dominance will continue.
How the Cubs Can Steal Game 3:
- Wrigley/Home Field Advantage: The advantage of playing before their hometown crowd cannot be ignored. This may have the effect Maddon and fans hope of getting the bats started. The Cubs have scored a total of 3 runs in the first two games. The home-field advantage should be able to bump up that 1.5 run per game average.
- Kyle Hendricks Must Pitch the Game of His Life: While Arrieta had the weight of the Cubs and Chicago on his shoulders in Game 2, that pressure shifts now to right-hander Hendricks, who must put a stop to the Mets hot bats, especially Daniel Murphy, who has five postseason homers, including a two-run shot off of Arrieta in Game 2. No small task, but he will have the home crowd behind him. However, Hendricks has been hurt by the home run ball as of late, and he allowed three solo shots in 4 2/3 innings in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Cardinals.
- Can the Cubs Get to deGrom? deGrom had his struggles with the Cubs’ left-handed bats in the regular season. While his post-season performance has been outstanding, deGrom needed help from the pen for the win in LA. The Cubs need Anthony Rizzo and Miguel Montero to come alive at the plate. deGrom went 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts against the Cubs. The only other team to beat deGrom twice this season was the Washington Nationals, in 6 games. However, this is the playoffs and deGrom has been looking like an Ace.
Prediction: Mets 7, Cubs 4
While the great Cubs fans will be a huge asset tonight, Chicago has lost five straight NLCS games dating back to 2003. The Mets are a team on a mission, dare I say like the Miracle Mets or the Bad Boys of ’86, currently besting the finest pitchers in the Game (who are not Mets pitchers :-). Tonight, we likely will see more runs overall, for both the Cubs at home and the Mets on the road. While I don’t forsee the 13-7 hitfest of the Dodgers-Mets in the NLDS, I believe there will be more scoring tonight in Wrigley.
Fun Fact: In 2014, when deGrom won the NL Rookie of the Year Award, there were three players tied for 7th in the voting: Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud, closer Jeurys Familia and the Cubs Game 3 starter, Kyle Hendricks.
(Nota Bene: The baseball club that Sinatra references that “lost” is the Yankees, not the Mets; Scorcese, the film producer for whom this song was penned by Epp and Cantor, is a fan of the Bronx Bombers)