By Paul DiSclafani:
Within the span of two games against the team with the best record in baseball, the Mets have brought their fans back a few more feet from the ledge as they hit five home runs against pitcher Jason Hammel on Friday in a 10-2 drubbing between multiple rain delays to go along with Thursday’s thrilling come from behind 4-3 win, which snapped a four game losing streak. Although the Mets had lost nine consecutive regular season games to the Cubs since 2014, they have now beaten them six straight, including a sweep of last year’s NLCS.
With nothing specific to point to other than the infectious smile of rookie Brandon Nimmo, the gloom and doom of being swept in Washington earlier in the week has given way to hope and optimism. That is, until Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the Cubs tonight.
Arrieta, arguably the league’s best pitcher at 12-2 will try to use that league leading 2.10 ERA to his advantage against a Mets team that is suddenly feeling its Wheaties.
The Mets finally provided some run support for Jacob deGrom on Friday as they tied a team record hitting five home runs against the same pitcher, allowing deGrom (4-4) to become a winner for the first time since April 30th, snapping a 10 game winless streak. Asdrubal Cabrera (twice), Yoenis Cespedes (#20), James Loney and Nimmo hit home runs in the rout. For Nimmo, it was his first in the major leagues (measured at 442 feet) and prompted the appreciative Citi Field crowd to demand a curtain call. Nimmo, smiling all the way around the bases, gave the ball, which landed in the bullpen area, to his parents, who were in attendance. Loney and Cabrera went back-to-back in the second inning.
In addition to his home run (and curtain call), Nimmo made a sliding one-handed catch of a fly ball in right field, prompting manager Terry Collins to say, “It’s always nice to have those young guys come up, because they bring energy.”
Now we’ll see how that energy translates to offense against Arrieta. Since tossing six shutout innings against the Pirates on 6/17 and lowering his ERA to 1.74, Arrieta has come back down to Earth a little. He was the losing pitcher against St. Louis on 6/22 and lasted only five innings in his last start against, of all teams, the last place Reds. Arrieta was charged with five earned runs and issued five walks, but the Cubs still managed to get him the “W” in an eventual 11-8 win.
The Mets roughed up Arrieta in Game 2 of the NLCS for three runs in the first inning highlighted by two-run home run by Daniel Murphy en route to a 4-1 win. But Arrieta is 2-1 lifetime against the Mets with a 1.82 ERA in the regular season.
Bartolo Colon (6-4, 2.86) goes tonight and tries to keep this good feeling going for the Mets as they continue to tread water heading into the All Star break next week. After what the Mets have been through the last two weeks, they are certainly enjoying their new-found enthusiasm.
“I’m real aware that it’s the gloomiest days when you lose here,” Terry Collins said. “If you lose two or three in a row here, it’s very hard to deal with. But it’s a long year.”
POSITIVES: Mets hit five home runs in a home game for the fifth time in franchise history, but for the first time at cavernous Citi Field. Last time was at Shea Stadium in 2000 against the Marlins … Juan Lagares has been activated for tonight’s game after going 6-18 with a triple and a couple of RBI with AA Binghamton as he continues to try to play through a partially torn ligament in his left thumb … Reliever Seth Lugo made his big league debut and pitched two scoreless innings of relief (2 hits and a HBP), but then was sent back to AAA Las Vegas to make room for Lagares. He is the first Met to ever wear #67 – now THAT’s a future trivia answer …
NEGATIVES: Curtis Granderson will miss the rest of this series and the Mets expect to make a decision on whether to put him on the DL today or tomorrow … David Wright looked gaunt in speaking to the media yesterday and has resigned himself to the fact that he will not play again this season.
Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at A View From the Bench, an official affiliate of MLB.com. A View from the Bench is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.