NEW YORK -- October grew serious Saturday on a blustery night at Citi Field, for a Mets team and a fan base suddenly boasting heady goals. Fans filtered into the ballpark wearing heavy coats and ski hats, bracing against winds that made the mid-40s temperatures feel even colder.
It was amid those conditions that Matt Harvey reclaimed a sold-out crowd's adoration, pitching into the eighth inning of the Mets' 4-2 National League Championship Series Game 1 win over the Cubs. Daniel Murphy and Travis d'Arnaud homered off Jon Lester to back Harvey, who struck out nine in snapping Chicago's nine-game winning streak over the Mets.
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"He wanted to go out and put on a good show," Mets third baseman David Wright said of Harvey. "He wanted to go out there and show off a little bit."
:: NLCS: Cubs vs. Mets -- Tune-in info ::
Behind their pitcher's vintage performance, the Mets took a 1-0 Series lead over the Cubs, which bodes well for their increasingly realistic World Series aspirations; in the history of the modern-day best-of-seven LCS, Game 1 winners are 36-22. Yet the Cubs also lost Game 1 of their NL Division Series against the Cardinals, before roaring back to win in four games.
The Cubs and Mets meet in Game 2 on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET on TBS, with game time scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
"It's just one game," Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber said. "We've got possibly six more games to play. We've got to move past it. We're not hanging our heads. We lost. We know we lost. Time to move forward tomorrow and play our ballgame."
Much maligned for his recent workload restrictions and public disagreements with the Mets, Harvey dominated from the start to garner chants of his name on multiple occasions. The Mets' Game 1 starter by default with both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard unavailable, Harvey retired the first 12 Cubs in order, allowing his first run on a fifth-inning Starlin Castro RBI double. He didn't cede another until Schwarber knocked him out of the game with a booming solo homer to right-center in the eighth.
Jeurys Familia entered from there to record his third postseason save of more than three outs. More >
"[Harvey] was outstanding tonight," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Give him credit, because he had about as good of command as you possibly can of all his pitches. His stuff is always good, but the command was outrageous tonight. Therein lies the game, because Jon pitched well, too."
Though the Mets hardly knocked Lester around Citi Field, they homered twice off him to plate four runs during his 6 2/3 innings. Murphy opened the scoring with his fourth postseason homer and third against a lefty, before Curtis Granderson singled home a run in the fifth inning to give the Mets the lead for good. An inning later, d'Arnaud tacked on a solo homer that dropped onto the Home Run Apple in straightaway center. Granderson widened the margin with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
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"We've worked so hard to get here, so why not enjoy it while we're here?" Murphy said. "This is a sweet win."
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**MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Apple of the Mets' eye:** Citi Field erupted when d'Arnaud's sixth-inning homer off Lester hit the ballpark's Home Run Apple in straightaway center field, giving the Mets a 3-1 lead. Statcast™ projected it to land 431 feet away, had the apple -- a replica of the original Shea Stadium Home Run Apple, which rests outside Citi Field's main gate -- not blocked its path. More >
"I've never seen that before," Murphy said. "I've never seen someone drop it in the apple like that. That was a great at‑bat to let us extend the lead."
Runaround: Anthony Rizzo, hit by a pitch a Major League-leading 30 times in the regular season, was plunked by Harvey to open the fifth and then scored on Castro's double over center fielder Juan Lagares. Castro didn't break quickly out of the batter's box on the hit and his baserunning was questionable one out later. Javier Baez singled to left and Castro tried to score but was easily thrown out at home by Yoenis Cespedes, who ranked sixth among outfielders in assists. More >
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Murphy once again: Murphy's fourth homer of the postseason, third against a left-hander and third in three games, left the yard in the first inning, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. Murphy, who had just one homer off a left-hander the entire regular season, added one off Lester to the two he hit against Clayton Kershaw in the NL Division Series. More >
"I think Dan Murphy is an All-Star, so I don't think it's something that's strange," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We all know when he gets hot, he can hit anybody and he can do a lot of damage, and he's hot. I'm not surprised at anything he does."
Glove work: Baez handled shortstop fine subbing for injured Addison Russell. d'Arnaud singled to open the Mets' second but Lester got Michael Cuddyer to hit a grounder that Baez fielded behind second base. Baez was able to tap the bag with his foot and make an acrobatic throw to first to get Cuddyer and complete the double play. In the Mets' sixth, Baez avoided colliding with Schwarber in left when he chased Murphy's popup, and got a fist pump from the rookie left fielder after the play.
"It was a really tough one because it went right between me and Castro, and we both could've caught the ball at the same time," Baez said of the double play. "I knew where he was and I just went for it. I went right over the bag."
"Is that the name of the goat? Is that what it is? Somebody told me that today. What do I make of that? A unique coincidence." -- Murphy, when told that the goat that has purportedly cursed the Cubs for over a century was also named Murphy
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Schwarber hit his fourth postseason homer with two outs in the eighth, and the rookie now has connected in three straight playoff games, tying a Cubs franchise record set by Alex Gonzalez (Oct. 5-8, 2003). Schwarber's blast also extended his franchise record for most homers in a single postseason by a rookie. He's now one of five players in Major League history to hit four home runs in the postseason before turning 23 years old, joining Mickey Mantle, Andruw Jones, Miguel Cabrera and Bryce Harper.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Mets challenged a Murphy groundout leading off the bottom of the eighth, contending that he beat Tommy La Stella's throw to the bag. No such luck; the call stood following a one-minute, 29-second review.
Cubs: Jake Arrieta makes his third postseason start on Sunday for Game 2 at Citi Field. Arrieta threw a five-hit shutout against the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game, but he wasn't as sharp in Game 3 of the NL Division Series. Maybe it was fatigue, maybe Arrieta isn't a robot. He was 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts against the Mets this season.
Mets: Fresh off his relief appearance in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, Syndergaard will start NLCS Game 2 Sunday at Citi Field. Expect some fireworks. The rookie repeatedly hit 101 mph in his NLDS Game 2 start, striking out nine over 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball. He also gave up three runs in his big league debut at Wrigley Field in May.