Chicago Cubs: Willson Contreras showcases his impact in win over Mets
By Jake Misener
After an early base running blunder, Willson Contreras delivered a clutch bases-loaded single to lift the Chicago Cubs to a win over the New York Mets.
There was a point in this game where I about blew my top at Willson Contreras. But, as is often the case, the positives far outweighed the negatives. The young Chicago Cubs backstop threw out a runner and drove in three runs in another big win over New York.
Chicago (79-66) got a gutsy performance from Jon Lester. The veteran clearly still doesn’t have his best stuff. He hasn’t since he came back from the disabled list, but, again, he got the job done. Pushing nearly 80 pitches after three, he tossed six innings of two-run ball, striking out five and overcoming four walks.
Jose Reyes opened the scoring in the top of the first with a leadoff homer. But the Cubs’ offense answered right back, scoring two in the bottom of the first. With the bases loaded and no outs, a pair of RBI groundouts pushed two runs across.
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Lester’s opposite number, Matt Harvey, tied things up with a sac bunt in the top of the second. The score remained tied until the bottom of the fourth, when Chicago pushed across three runs against the right-hander and the New York pen.
Breaking out the bats
First, Anthony Rizzo drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run and give Chicago a 3-2 lead. Contreras followed with a two-run single into left to open things up. Two innings later, an error by Asdrubal Cabrera accounted for the sixth Cubs’ tally.
In the bottom of the third, with men on first and second, Jason Heyward singled to center past a diving Reyes at second. Contreras, the lead runner, rounded third and headed for home. The throw went to third and Happ was gunned down. Normally it wouldn’t matter, but it ended the inning because Contreras was caught looking at the play. That slowed him down and he did not cross home plate before the out was recorded at third.
After Pedro Strop worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh, ‘El Mago’ struck again. Javier Baez deposited his 22nd homer of the year, a solo shot, into the basket in left to make it a 7-2 ballgame.
The Cubs weren’t done in the inning, either. Later in the seventh, Albert Almora Jr. connected on a mammoth three-run shot to blow it wide open – 10-2. New York did some damage against Justin Grimm in the eighth, but it made little difference. Chicago pouted it on in their half of the frame to finish things off with seven more runs.
Next: Cubs name Minor League Player, Pitcher of the Year
Chicago and New York conclude their three-game set on Thursday night at Wrigley Field.
Seth Lugo (6-4, 4.64) starts for the Mets. Jen-Ho Tseng (0-0, 0.00) makes his big-league debut, toeing the rubber for Chicago. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. CT.
Following the finale, the Cubs welcome in the rival Cardinals for a pivotal weekend series.