In game one of the National League Championship Series, New York Mets ace Matt Harvey undoubtedly owned the Chicago Cubs hitting staff, not allowing a base runner until halfway through the game. Many have argued a generous strike zone for the “Dark Knight” last evening, but no one forced the Cubs batters to swing at such great breaking pitches. Even after taking a batted ball in the shoulder he still proved why he’s one of the best. His breaking stuff seemingly subsided as he could no longer pitch from the stretch, but it didn’t matter. Harvey just let his raw power do the talking, bringing the heat pitch after dominating pitch. His only real blemish was a home run given up to left-fielder Kyle Schwarber shortly before being pulled.
Although it was the Matt Harvey Show on Saturday night, he had some help in the form of timely hits by the position players on his squad. Daniel Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud both took to the long ball and Chicago native Curtis Granderson added a well-hit sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. The Mets only tallied four runs, but as is the case over a normal season, if Harvey is on the mound that’s probably all you need.
As for Chicago, in a baseball town seemingly devoid of top-tier pitching (regardless of the fact that it has two teams, and yes, aside from the White Sox’s Chris Sale), Jake Arrieta is the man on the mound that this northeastern Illinois city has been praying for. And he could be all the difference tonight in game two.
Arrieta, 29, came into the 2015 season as arguably the best pitcher on the Cubs staff. The only other contender was $155-million man Jon Lester. But as this season has shown, not only is Arrieta the best on the club, he’s also one of the best in baseball. Arrieta has been there time and time again, and since the All-Star break he has been nothing short of stellar with an ERA under 1.00. For the season, he notched 22 wins, four complete games (including three shutouts), a whisper-thin 1.77 ERA and and even tinier (if not nearly nonexistent in terms of general baseball numbers) .865 WHIP.
Noah Syndergaard will take the mound for the Mets in the second game of this best of seven series, and although young, he’s no pushover. The same, however, goes for the rest of the Cubs squad that, although mostly youthful, recently set a MLB record for post season home runs in a single game with six.
Each teams had eight hits in game one, but the Cubs couldn’t put them together when it mattered most. Regardless, don’t count them out just yet. This series should be a dog fight to the bitter end, possibly reaching six or seven games when it’s all said and done. Either way it’s going to be a fantastic matchup tonight in what should be another brisk Citi Field setting. Can the Cubs take the series back to Chicago tied 1-1? We’ll find out at 8:07pm ET on TBS.