Meet the Mets. Greet the Mets. Come on, all you Cubbies, and sweep the Mets.
Riding a tie-breaking home run from Anthony Rizzo and a bullpen that has been on fire of late, the Chicago Cubs (23-34) beat the New York Mets (28-32) 7-4 at Wrigley Field Thursday night to pick up their first series sweep of 2014 – and first series sweep at home since July 2012.
Rizzo’s 11th homer of the year – a no-doubter to right-center – gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning. Justin Grimm had surrendered the lead and allowed the Mets to tie the game in the top of the inning on a two-run home run by Andrew Brown.
The bullpen was lights out the rest of the way.
Pedro Strop pitched the eighth and Neil Ramirez finished it off for his first career save. Ramirez was giving Hector Rondon the night off and with the scoreless ninth lowered his ERA to 0.68 on the season. The ninth was made less stressful thanks to a two-run triple off the bat of Junior Lake in the eighth that extended the Chicago lead to 7-4. Lake was thrown out trying to score when the throw got away from Mets third baseman David Wright.
The question remains: What does this sweep mean for the last-place Cubs? There’s nothing like a confidence-building series sweep – especially over a team that your fan base despises. The Cubs moved to 11 games under .500 and are still a handful of games out of fourth place in the NL Central. So, short-term, it may not mean anything at all.
But, these last few seasons haven’t been about the short-term in any way, shape or form. The fact that this was the first Cubs sweep of the Mets at Wrigley Field in 10 years says more about how bad the Cubs have been than how good the Mets are. Some of these young Cubs – the Castros and Rizzos – will be on the North Side when things get turned around in the next few years. When that happens – it will mean something to them that not everything they do are they doing for the first time since another era’s team accomplished it. That’s why, long-term wise, tonight’s win was a big one for this team – regardless of the current NL Central standings.
Travis Wood (5-5, 5.04) was good, but not great. With only 92 pitches he went into the sixth – and left with a 4-1 lead. Wood’s contributions carried over to the plate, where he hit his second home run of the year to give the Cubs an early 3-0 lead. That came just moments after Darwin Barney was initially called out on a sacrifice fly to left. Replays showed that he got his hand on the plate before being tagged by Mets catcher Travis D’Arnaud.
The Cubs will look to extend their win streak tomorrow afternoon when they welcome the Miami Marlins (32-28) to Wrigley Field for a traditional Friday afternoon series opener. Miami is surprisingly near the top of the NL East and have the best home record in baseball. However, away from South Florida the Marlins are only 9-17.
Miami will send Nathan Eovaldi (4-2, 3.24) to the mound to face Jason Hammel (6-3, 2.78). First pitch is set for 3:05 CST, the game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet and broadcast on the radio on 720 AM WGN.