Considering how hard it’s been for the Mets to get a clutch hit with runners in scoring position at any point this season, never in a million years did I think Rene Rivera would be the guy to get one against the Cubs. But that’s exactly what he did last night.
Just Two Nasty Gunslingers: Jake Arrieta and Noah Syndergaard both had their nasty pitching arsenal on display last night. But Arrieta was superior. He went 7 innings, gave up 1 run on 5 hits and struck out 8. Syndergaard had his high velocity fastball working and seemed to be fully recovered from that dead arm outing. Obviously the All-Star Break rest helped him. But he was also in trouble many times during the game. He battled his way through 5.2 innings and gave up 1 unearned run on 7 hits with 8 strikeouts. Often he was in trouble because of the Mets shoddy defense.
Sloppy Ball: In the first inning, Curtis Granderson briefly froze in center field on the first ball the Cubs hit in the game, and it dropped in front of him. It was certainly a hit, but it showed Grandy has to shake off that rust in center. Then Kris Bryant hit one up the middle, and Neil Walker failed to make a play on the ball. The Walker play was ruled a hit, but it was playable. Thor escaped the inning without any damage, but he had to work hard right away.
Sloppy Ball Part 2: In the third inning with two outs, Willson Contreras doubled. Then Noah Syndergaard threw a wild pitch, and instead of holding on to the ball, Rene Rivera chucked it into left field. That allowed Contreras to score an unearned run making it 1-0 Cubs.
Mets Impression: The Cubs did their best impression of the Mets last night by wasting opportunities on offense left and right. They went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position. They had chances to score in the first, second, fourth, sixth, and then in the ninth against Jeurys Familia. But the Mets kept wiggling out of jams, and the big time Cubs hitters just couldn’t capitalize in key spots.
Big Play At The Plate: In the fourth inning with two outs, Jake Arrieta doubled off of Thor. Then Tommy La Stella singled and Arrieta scored on the hit. But it was clear upon replay review that Michael Conforto threw out Arrieta at the plate. Rivera got the tag down. Thank God for replay. These mook umps really miss the calls on the field all the time. That kept the score 1-0 Cubs.
Reyes Run: In the 6th inning, the Mets scored on a classic throwback Jose Reyes inning. He scorched a leadoff triple. He was running so hard to third, I thought his hammy was going to explode like it always does. That’s certainly part of the throwback feeling. Anyway, then Grandy hit a sac fly to tie the game at 1. It was a huge leadoff hit by Reyes. Dare I say it sparked the Mets? Also, when Jose finally blows his hammy out this year for the billionth time, I really hope it happens at Citi Field, so the team can blast the Curb Your Enthusiasm Theme song throughout the stadium. That would be too full circle to just ignore.
Big Time Hansel: Props to Hansel Robles for giving the Mets two huge innings of relief in the 7th and 8th. The Cubs had chances against Syndergaard, Jerry Blevins, and Jeurys Familia, but they did not have an opportunity against Hansel.
The Rene Rivera Inning: In the 9th inning, James Loney led off with an opposite field single. Then Neil Walker hit into a double play. The inning crushing double play is pretty standard for the Mets, so this wasn’t surprising at all. However, replay saved the Mets again because it showed Walker beat the throw to first, and the Mets won the challenge. Asdrubal Cabrera followed that with a single to make it first and second with one out for future center fielder Michael Conforto. Unfortunately, Conforto struck out for the second time in this game. That set up the enormous two out opposite field RBI single by Rene Rivera. Rene Rivera had three hits in this game. Obviously the one that turned out to be the game winner was the biggest. Meanwhile Kevin Plawecki is probably hitting .750 in Vegas with 30 home runs over two weeks, but nobody up north cares. I hope clutch hitting is contagious like Keith Hernandez says. I really hope this Rivera hit leads to a clutch hitting epidemic for this team.
The Jeurys Houdini Act: Jeurys Familia came in for the 9th, walked the first two batters, and then gave up a bunt single to load the bases. The guy may convert every single save, but he’s a circus act out there every time. With no outs, pinch hitter Matt Szczur hit a ball to James Loney, and the Mets were able to get the first out at home plate. Then Kris Bryant hit into a game ending double play (thanks to a sweet scoop by Loney at first). Familia has converted 49 straight regular season saves. He hasn’t blown a save since the San Diego rain delay game last year. Having a robot save machine closer with the Mariano Rivera software is amazing. Sure they have glitches sometimes where they walk the leadoff man or load the bases with nobody out. But it’s nice that we can rely on their robot programming to convert the save in the end.
Today: The Mets are playing the Cubs in Chicago. Winning 2 out of 3 in Chicago is going to be tough. But we need wins. Must keep pace. Let’s be Sexy and take this matinee with Bartolo Colon on the mound.