The Chicago Cubs entered the NLCS against the New York Mets as the prohibitive favorites according to the Oddsmakers. Someone forgot to mention this to the New Yorkers, as they prevailed in Games One and Two behind the stealer pitching of Matt Harvey (Game One) and Noah Syndergaard (Game Two).
In the Mets’ 4-2 victory in the opener, Harvey simply just kept missing Cubs’ bats with 7 2/3 brilliant innings (4 h, 2 er, 9 K). Only Kyle Schwarber, one of the Cubs’ stellar rookies, hit him hard. The problem is that the Mets hit Jon Lester (6 2/3 ip, 8 h, 4 er, 5 K) harder, with home runs off the bats of Travis D’Arnaud and the red hot Daniel Murphy. Game Two featured pretty much the same script in the Mets 4-1 win. Murphy, once again, hit a long ball to support Syndergaard (5 2/3ip, 3H, 1 ER, 9 K) and three relievers. The Cubs countered with prohibitive Cy Young favorite Jake Arrieta (5ip, 4 H, 4 ER, 8 K) who seems to have simply run out of gas as he has put more than 90 more innings on his right arm in 2015 than in any season prior. While the Mets hardly pounded the tar out of the ball in those two games, the Cubs barely dented it.Now they hope to change that with a return to Wrigley Field, where they were an impressive 49-32 in 2015. The Mets were barely over .500 on the road (41-40, 0-4 at Wrigley). The weather is supposed to be warm and breezy in Chicago for the three games, which should play to the Cubs strengths offensively. The home team is putting Kyle Hendricks, Jason Hammel, and, most likely, Lester on the mound against Jacob DeGrom, Steven Matz, and Matt Harvey. That Game Five tilt could bear watching, as Harvey was struck in the pitching arm by a Dexter Fowler line drive. Manager Terry Collins reported on Monday that Harvey’s right triceps is “pretty sore and swelled up,” If he is good to go, he may be on a short leash.
It is time for the Cubs’ faithful to come in off the ledge. The Mets are a good team. Really good. They were just as good at home (49-32) as the Cubs were, and they thoroughly outputted, outhit, and outfielded the Cubs this weekend in New York.
There is no reason to think that Joe Maddon will let these guys feel beat. There is a reason this Cubs team never had a prolonged losing streak in 2015. The previous environment in which it was acceptable, if not expected, to lose is gone from the clubhouse.
“We’re all about one-game winning streaks, very seriously. I really preach daily the one-day-at-a-time approach,” Maddon said Sunday night. “I know it’s Psychobabble 101, but it actually works. So all I’m concerned about is the next game.”
And he is right. Live for the day. In Maddon’s world, the Cubs are not down 2-0 in this Series. They simply lost two one game series and now look forward to the next one game series, at home, on Tuesday. Look for the Cubs’ bats to come out swinging and backing Hendricks’ solid 6 innings in a 7-2 win. This series is not yet over, folks…
–Omar V Gobby