Game Seventy-Eight – Cubs 3, Mets 4
WP – Erik Goeddel (1-0) LP – Joel Peralta (1-1) Save – Jeurys Familia (27)
Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in the first inning. Javier Baez added a solo shot in sixth. John Lackey turned the game over to the bullpen with one on and one out in the seventh and the Cubs leading 3-1. Two bad decisions in the field and a free pass gave the Mets too many opportunities. The Mets scored three runs in the seventh and took a one-run lead. The Cubs left the bases loaded in the ninth and lost the opener of the four-game series in Queens.
Thursday was a tough loss, one Joe Maddon will make sure his players learn from and are in a better position to handle the situations later in the season to win a game.
The Cubs made too many mistakes in the field to win a game on the road with against a team with a really good pitching staff. Those mental and physical mistakes, along with a walking a pinch-hitter batting .158 on the season, cost them the game.
John Lackey started the seventh inning with a two-run lead. Lackey labored through the sixth, but wiggled out of a big jam while allowing just one run, a third deck homer to Yoenis Cespedes. Lackey retired Wilmer Flores on a routine fly to center. Travis d’Arnaud singled to left and Maddon made the slow walk. Maddon handed the ball to Joel Peralta, and the veteran reliever just doesn’t have anything left. His job was to retire back-to-back lefties and he couldn’t do it.
Alejandro De Aza of the .158 hitting De Azas pinch hit for Erik Goeddel and Peralta walked him. With runners on first and second with one down, Peralta could not put away rookie Brandon Nimmo.
Brandon Nimmo singled to center and d’Arnaud scored, 3-2 Cubs. But Albert Almora Jr. tried to make a play at third that wasn’t there. Instead of throwing to second, Almora Jr.’s bad decision put runners on second and third with one out. Maddon went to the pen for Pedro Strop.
Neil Walker stepped in and it appeared Maddon was conceding the tying run. Strop got ahead of Walker so Maddon brought his infield in. Walker bounced a 1-2 pitch to the right of Baez, who fielded the ball and tried to make a play at third base. Bryant wasn’t in position to catch the ball. Baez’s throw was off line. De Aza and Nimmo scored, 4-3 Mets. James Loney lined out to Rizzo to end the inning.
Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with a walk) led off the eighth with an infield single to the hole at short. Addison Reed caught Javier Baez looking for the first out. Chris Coghlan hit for Matt Szczur. Contreras advanced to second on a wild pitch. Coghlan put together a 10-pitch at-bat but struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Addison Russell (0-for-1 with three walks) walked and Maddon sent Jason Heyward up to hit for Strop. Collins countered with lefty Jerry Blevins and Heyward broke his bat tapping back to the mound for the third out.
The game went to the ninth with the Cubs still down by one. Miguel Montero batted for Albert Almora Jr. and worked a walk against Jeurys Familia. Travis Wood ran for Montero and went to third when Ben Zobrist doubled to right. Bryant stepped in with runners on second and third with no outs. Bryant struck out swinging. Familia walked Rizzo and forced Contreras to beat him.
Willson Contreras looked very uncomfortable as he tried to process the moment. Contreras could not slow the game down and struck out swinging. And it was up to Javier Baez with the bases loaded, two outs and the Cubs trailing by one run. Baez popped up the second pitch he saw to James Loney to end the game.
John Lackey had a decent outing Thursday. Lackey appeared to work well with Contreras for the most part. Once again, Lackey put his team in position to win the game. Lackey was charged with two runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
Kris Bryant (1-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) and Javier Baez (2-for-5 with a home run) provided the Cubs’ runs with homers off Steven Matz. Bryant took Matz deep in the first inning with Ben Zobrist (2-for-5 with a double and a run scored) on first base.
And Javier Baez gave Lackey a little breathing room with a solo homer in the sixth. Baez’s blast put the Cubs up 3-0.
The Cubs scored three runs on nine hits and actually outhit the Mets 9-6. The Cubs walked six times but were a miserable 0-for-7 with RISP while leaving 11 men on base.
With Thursday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 51-27 on the season.
Jason Hammel takes on Jacob deGrom in game two with the Mets on Friday night (6:10pm CDT).