Special to Digital Sports Desk
By TERRY LYONS, Editor-in-Chief
FLUSHING – The New York Mets’ 2017 season has been a regular “Cyclone,” Not the weather version of a cyclone but rather the Coney Island version. It’s been a short, fast, curving type of roller coaster ride, consisting of wins, losses, injuries, rain-outs, hamstring-pulls, lat injuries to ace pitchers, and even some locker room antics, late-night hangovers, phone calls, suspensions, last-minute scratches of starting pitchers, all leading to highly disappointed fans, a contrite player apology and, ultimately, a 16-17, sub-.500 record.
It’s only May 10th and the Mets have experienced more than a full season or two share of ups and downs. Today, the final game of a still-early-season home stand for the Mets who had the potential to sweep a three-game set against the visiting and reeling San Francisco Giants, the single game became the forensic study for the entire season. The weather was near-glorious, but the “Cyclone” ran strong.
“He threw exactly how we had hoped,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “It’s exactly what we had seen,” he added seemingly proud of the in-season waiver pick-up of May 1st.
When: 8:30 PM ET, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO – (Wire Service Report) – It took an incredible rally to end an incredible streak. As a result, the Chicago Cubs’ incredible season marches on.
Javier Baez capped a four-run rally in the top of the ninth inning with a run-scoring single Tuesday night, lifting the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants and a four-game win in the best-of-five National League Division Series. By denying the Giants an 11th consecutive win in a postseason elimination game, the Cubs move on to their second consecutive NL Championship Series, beginning Saturday at Wrigley Field. Chicago will host either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Washington Nationals in the best-of-seven series that will determine the NL representative in the World Series. The Cubs haven’t won the NL title since 1945, and they haven’t won the World Series since 1908.
“I think it validates on a lot of different levels,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the series win. “If you’re a player on this particular team within the organization, it’s getting to the point now you want to expect to get to the postseason, and you want to expect to get deeply into the postseason.”
The Giants, a wild-card entry into the playoffs, were bidding to continue their even-year success that saw them win World Series championships in 2010, ’12 and ’14.
“It’s a weird feeling.” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It kind of gives you an empty stomach to go out like this. It’s a tough way to go out, but what a great job (our team) did, going back to the last homestand, (the) wild-card (game), and these were hard-fought games. Give the Cubs credit.”
The Chicago uprising came against five San Francisco relievers after Giants starter Matt Moore limited the Cubs to two hits over eight innings. With the Cubs down 5-2, the dramatic rally began when Kris Bryant grounded a leadoff single off right-hander Derek Law. Lefty Javier Lopez came on for one batter and walked Anthony Rizzo, bringing the potential tying run to the plate and prompting closer Sergio Romo’s entrance from the bullpen. Ben Zobrist greeted Romo with a double into the right field corner, scoring Bryant and putting the tying runs in scoring position with still no outs. Lefty Will Smith was summoned to face pinch hitter Chris Coghlan, who was pulled in favor of a right-handed hitter, Willson Contreras. The catcher grounded a two-run, game-tying single up the middle.
“We don’t quit. That’s really what it comes down to,” Maddon said. “You hear that all the time, everybody says it, but you have to actually live it.”
The win was the third in Cubs postseason history when trailing after eight innings, and was just the second in major league history for a team trailing by three or more runs entering the ninth of a potential close-out game. The Mets trailed the Houston Astros 3-0 through eight innings of Game 6 of the NLCS, and New York ultimately won 7-6 in 16 innings to take the series.
“The game of baseball is a game that is 27 outs,” Baez said. “We can’t give up because we’re down. We were fighting and fighting … We just made their bullpen pay.”
Hector Rondon (1-0), who worked a scoreless eighth inning, got the win. Smith (0-1) was credited with the loss, even though the run off him was unearned.
Conor Gillaspie and Joe Panik, heroes of the Giants’ two postseason wins, carried the club’s offense once again, mostly against Cubs starter John Lackey. Batting sixth and seventh, respectively, they combined for six hits, two RBIs and two runs.
NOTES: The Cubs will be making back-to-back appearances in the National League Championship Series for the first time in their history. … Chicago’s David Ross, 39, became the oldest catcher to hit a home run in a postseason game. … The loss when leading after eight innings was the first in Giants postseason history since 1911. … SS Brandon Crawford was the first Giant to commit two errors in a playoff game since RF Don Mueller in 1954. … Cubs RHP John Lackey made his 21st postseason start, which tied him with RHP Mike Mussina for seventh most in major league history. LHP Andy Pettitte holds the record with 44. … The record-holders for most consecutive wins in potential elimination postseason games in the NBA and NFL are the Boston Celtics (11, 1959-67) and New England Patriots (10, 2002-06).
When: 8:30 PM ET, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Giants refuse to panic in elimination games and second baseman Joe Panik thrived to became their latest postseason hero. The Giants have won a record 10 straight in elimination contests and they attempt to tie the best-of-five National League Division Series at 2-2 when they host the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.
Panik reached base five times on three hits and two walks Monday and belted the blistering walkoff RBI double off the wall in right-center field to provide San Francisco with a 6-5, 13-inning victory. “We’re always a confident bunch,” Panik said on the postgame television interview. “We’ve been there before and we’re facing a really good team in the Cubs. So it’s a matter of trying to stay within ourselves and not try to do too much and play the way we know how to play.” San Francisco used a three-run eighth inning — third baseman Conor Gillaspie’s two-run triple was the big hit — to take a two-run lead into the ninth inning before Chicago third baseman Kris Bryant hit a tying two-run homer to force the extra frames. The Cubs have dropped eight of their last 10 postseason road games and manager Joe Maddon has this to say of Monday’s defeat: “We played it hard, we played it right — and they beat us.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH John Lackey (11-8, 3.35 ERA) vs. Giants LH Matt Moore (13-12, 4.08)
Lackey is a veteran of the postseason wars dating to 2002 and has compiled an 8-5 record and 3.11 ERA in 23 career appearances (20 starts). “Yeah, I’ve had several postseason starts, and one doesn’t really affect the next one,” Lackey said at a news conference. “You kind of know what to expect on the outside like as far as the flyovers and all the more time in between innings and that kind of stuff, you know how to handle that, but once you get in the game, it’s another game, another challenge.” Lackey, who turns 38 later this month, is 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA in three career starts against San Francisco, including a no-decision Sept. 4 when he gave up two runs (one earned) and one hit in five innings.
Moore is making his fifth postseason appearance and third start, with the others coming when he played for the Tampa Bay Rays — then managed by Maddon. Moore went 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in those four appearances that occurred when he was 22 and 24 years old and he said he learned from the experience. “I think just taking a little bit relaxed mindset, maybe stepping back and realizing that it’s the same game; it’s just a bigger moment,” Moore said at a news conference. “Try not to get caught up too much in the second.”
1. Giants C Buster Posey went 3-for-5 on Monday for his second multi-hit outing of the series.
2. Chicago 1B Anthony Rizzo is hitless in 13 at-bats in the series and is just 6-for-45 in his postseason career.
3. San Francisco LF Angel Pagan (back spasms) was scratched from Game 3 and his availability for Game 4 will be determined Tuesday.
PREDICTION: Giants 5, Cubs 3