2015 National League Championship Series
|2015 National League Championship Series|
|New York Mets
90 - 72 in the NL
|4 - 0
97 - 65 in the NL
|1||Chicago Cubs 2 New York Mets 4||October 17||Jon Lester (0-1) Matt Harvey (1-0)||7:30 pm|
|2||Chicago Cubs 1 New York Mets 4||October 18||Jake Arrieta (0-1) Noah Syndergaard (1-0)||7:30 pm|
|3||New York Mets 5 Chicago Cubs 2||October 20||Jacob deGrom (1-0) Kyle Hendricks (0-0)||8:00 pm|
|4||New York Mets 8 Chicago Cubs 3||October 21||Steven Matz (0-0) Jason Hammel (0-1)||8:00 pm|
Game 1 @ Citi Field
|WP: Matt Harvey (1-0), LP: Jon Lester (0-1), SV: Jeurys Familia (1)|
|Home Runs: NY - Daniel Murphy (1), Travis d'Arnaud (1); CHI - Kyle Schwarber (1)|
- Attendance: 44,287
The Mets won the opening game at home as Matt Harvey silenced critics with a very solid performance, pitching into the 8th inning and keeping the Cubs' batters in check in a 4-2 win. In the media cauldron that is New York, Harvey had been harshly criticized for easing up in September, when the Mets had clinched a postseason slot, in order not to overtax his arm in his first season back from Tommy John surgery; the idea behind the criticism was that he had to either go all out, all the way, or simply end his season. The alternative of trying not to burn himself out before the big October games was considered unthinkable in that sort of back/white thinking. He was facing Jon Lester, the Cubs' big off-season signing, who had been solid but not dominant all year, and who had lost his only start of the postseason thus far.
The Mets got off to a good start, as Daniel Murphy, the team's hottest hitter since the beginning of the postseason, homered to right field with two outs in the 1st. It was however the only offensive action in the first third of the game, as Harvey was perfect through three innings, while the only other batter to reach base, Travis d'Arnaud, who singled to lead off the 2nd, was immediately erased on a double play. Harvey made it 12 straight outs with a perfect 4th, then David Wright walked and stole second to open the bottom of the frame, but the next three batters made outs. The Cubs tied the game in the 5th when Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Starlin Castro immediately doubled him in. After a ground out, Javier Baez singled, but Castro was gunned down at home by LF Yoenis Cespedes. Baez then stole second and made it to third when C d'Arnaud's throw ended up in centerfield. Harvey then walked David Ross intentionally to face the notoriously poor-hitting Lester who complied by striking out.
The Mets re-took the lead in the bottom of the 5th when Wilmer Flores singled with one out, and Juan Lagares did so as well. Harvey hit a ground ball that forced out Lagares, but Flores advanced to third and scored on another single by Curtis Granderson. D'Arnaud then homered in the 6th to make it 3-1 in favor of New York. The Cubs put a couple of men on with one out in the 7th but Baez and Tommy La Stella, pinch-hitting for Ross, both struck out against Harvey. The Mets then added a fourth run in the bottom of that inning as Lagares started the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Harvey. He then stole third base and Granderson followed with a sacrifice fly to left. That was the end of Lester's night, as Justin Grimm took over.
Kyle Schwarber cut the lead in half with a long home run with two outs in the 8th. That marked the end of the line for Harvey as Jeurys Familia came in with a mission to record the last four outs. He started off by walking Kris Bryant, but got Rizzo to ground out to end the 8th, then in the 9th he got two outs before allowing a single to Miguel Montero, but La Stella grounded out to end the game. However, one issue that only became apparent after the game was that Harvey had taken a line drive off the bat of Dexter Fowler on his right arm; the bruise began swelling the following day, making him doubtful for a possible Game 5 start.
Game 2 @ Citi Field
|WP: Noah Syndergaard (1-0), LP: Jake Arrieta (0-1), SV: Jeurys Familia (2)|
|Home Runs: Daniel Murphy (2)|
- Attendance: 44,502
The Cubs had Jake Arrieta on the mound for Game 2 and felt good, since, among other superlative statistics, he had gone 14-1 on the road during the season, including his shutout in the Wild Card Game. But the Mets were not phased, as their own starter, Noah Syndergaard, albeit a rookie, could match up with the best of them on a good night. On a frigid night at Citi Field, it turned out not to be one of those for "Thor", but not for Arrieta, as he was touched for three runs in the 1st inning and the Cubs never managed to come back, falling into a two games to none deficit.
Syndergaard started off the game by getting a pair of strikeouts and stranding Anthony Rizzo, who had reached on a two-out single, in the 1st inning. Then Arrieta came out and after having gone 25 straight starts without allowing a 1st-inning run, was in trouble from the get-go. Curtis Granderson led off with a single to right and David Wright drove him in with a double for a 1-0 lead. Up next was Daniel Murphy, the Mets' hottest hitter of the postseason, who drove a pitch into the upper deck in right field, moments after sending another pitch to the same area, but just foul, and it was 3-0, Mets. In effect, the game was over after 13 pitches, as both teams only scored once after that point, given the dominance of the pitching. Arrieta retired the next three batters, including the last two on strikeouts, but the damage had been done. The Mets then added an insurance run in the 3rd, when Granderson led off with a walk and stole second while Wright was striking out. Burned once, the Cubs decided to issue an intentional walk to Murphy, but Granderson then stole third and scored on an infield single by Yoenis Cespedes.
In the 6th, Cubs manager Joe Maddon sent Tommy La Stella to pinch-hit for Arrieta; he flied out, but Dexter Fowler followed with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch by Syndergaard. Kris Bryant followed with a double, cutting the lead to 4-1, but that was all the offense that Chicago was able to mount all day. Jon Niese replaced Syndergaard after Bryant's hit and got the last out of the inning by striking out Rizzo, then three other relievers pitched one inning each. Addison Reed worked the 7th, Tyler Clippard the 8th and Jeurys Familia the 9th. During that three-inning stretch, they gave up a grand total of two singles. The Cubs bullpen also managed to stop the Mets, with Travis Wood contributing two perfect innings during which he struck out 4, but that wasn't enough. The 1st inning had already decided the game in favor of the Mets.
Game 3 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Jacob deGrom (1-0), LP: Trevor Cahill (0-1), SV: Jeurys Familia (3)|
|Home Runs: CHI - Kyle Schwarber (2), Jorge Soler (1); NY - Daniel Murphy (3)|
- Attendance: 42,231
Once again, in Game 3, the Mets won thnks to a strong performance by their starting pitcher and a home run by the Babe Ruth-chanelling Daniel Murphy, who tied a record held by Carlos Beltran by going deep in his fifth consecutive postseason game. The pitcher this time was Jacob deGrom, who had won two games, including the clincher, in the Division Series, while the Cubs were less confident in their own starter, second-year man Kyle Hendricks.
The Mets got on the board quickly as Curtis Granderson opened the game by reaching on an error by Cubs SS Javier Baez. He was caught stealing second, however, but David Wright took his place on the bases with a single. After Murphy struck out, Yoenis Cespedes hit a double to left, and New York was up, 1-0. The lead did not last long, however, as Kyle Schwarber drove a pitch from deGrom beyond the left-center field wall for a home run. After a second out, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro hit back-to-back singles, but Jorge Soler grounded out to end the inning. The Mets continued to press in the 2nd, putting their first two men on with a a single by Travis d'Arnaud and a walk to Michael Conforto, but Wilmer Flores forced out Conforto and deGrom grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the 3rd, however, Murphy continued his completely unexpected power display by homering to center with two outs to make it 2-1 for New York. That lead lasted just one inning, though, as Soler homered with one out in the 4th to tie the score again at 2-2. Joe Maddon decided to replace Hendricks with a pinch-hitter with two outs in that inning, buit Chris Coghlan struck out to end the frame.
The Cubs now had to rely on their bullpen for the remainder of the game. Clayton Richard got the assignment in the 5th, and while he walked Granderson and allowed a single to Wright, he was saved when Murphy grounded into an inning-ending double play. The Cubs could not get anything going against deGrom, however, and Cespedes led off the top of the 6th with a single off Trevor Cahill. Using small ball tactics, Terry Collins had slugger Lucas Duda lay down a sacrifice bunt, then Cespedes surprised everyone by stealing third base. However, d'Arnaud was unable to cash him in, grounding out to 3B Kris Bryant for the second out. Cahill then thought he was out of the inning when he struck out Conforto, but C Miguel Montero was unable to corral Cahill's wild pitch, and the dropped third strike allowed Cespedes to score the go-ahead run while Conforto made it safely to first base. Flores followed with a ground rule double that RF Soler let bounce past him and get stuck into Wrigley Field's ivy; Conforto would have scored easily if not for that. However, Collins did not want to remove deGrom from the game, letting him bat with two outs and two runners in scoring position, and he flied out to left. The Cubs had avoided giving up a big inning, but they were now trailing.
DeGrom justified his manager's confidence by retiring the Cubs in order in the bottom of the 6th, then in the 7th his teammates gave him the cushion he had been unable to secure for himself. Travis Wood was now pitching and allowed a one-out double to Wright. Murphy singled to place men on the corners, and Justin Grimm took over for Wood. Cespedes greeted him with a run-scoring single, and Duda added a fifth run with a ground ball to first base. The Mets were now up 5-2, and deGrom put firther pressure on them by pitching another perfect inning. He left after 7 innings, having allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk while striking out 7, with only one of the hits - Soler's solo homer - coming after the 1st. Tyler Clippard took over in the 8th; he allowed a one-out double to Dexter Fowler but then got Schwarber and Bryant on weak fly balls. In the 9th, it was up to closer Jeurys Familia to finish things off and he registered his third save of the series with a one-two-three inning. The Mets were one win away from the World Series.
Game 4 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Bartolo Colon (1-0), LP: Jason Hammel (0-1)|
|Home Runs: NY - Lucas Duda (1), Travis d'Arnaud (2), Daniel Murphy (4); CHI - Kris Bryant (1)|
- Attendance: 42,227
The Mets completed their four-game sweep with an emphatic victory in Game 4. Even with their backs to the wall, the Cubs gambled on starting Jason Hammel whose second half was poor and whose start in the Division Series had been abbreviated; however, he proved unable to keep his team in the game even for a minimal number of innings. For the Mets, there was no stress about starting raw rookie Steven Matz, with a three-game lead and a well-rested bullpen. The game was basically decided after two innings, as the Mets jumped to a 6-0 lead and never looked back. The game was also notable for the performance of Daniel Murphy, who set a new postseasonr ecord by homering in his 6th straight game; he ended up named the MVP of the series.
Curtis Granderson was once again a good igniter, leading off the game with a single off Hammel. The Cubs' pitcher almost got out of the inning unscathed, however, as he struck out David Wright and got Murphy on a pop-up. But Granderson stole second base, Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk, and Lucas Duda, who had been relatively quiet until then, homered to center field for a 3-0 lead. Next up was Travis d'Arnaud, and he homered as well, to right center, and the Cubs were in a deep, deep hole before even getting to see what Matz, whom they had never faced, was throwing. The nightmarish inning continued, with Michael Conforto being hit by a pitch and being sent over to third base by a Wilmer Flores single. Flores then proceeded to steal second, but Matz flied out to right to finally end the frame. He then turned around to retire the Cubs in order, including a pair of strikeouts.
The Mets delivered a killing blow in the 2nd when they added two more runs. Wright drew a one-out walk, and Joe Maddon yanked Hammel, bringing in Travis Wood. Wood gave up a single to Murphy, then after striking out Cespedes, a double by Duda scored two more runs. Given that the Cubs had only been able to score all postseason via the homer, usually of the solo variety, a six-run deficit was really steep. The Mets felt confident enough to replace Cespedes with Juan Lagares, using the pretext of a minor shoulder injury, but also giving out a signal that they felt they had all the runs they needed to win. Indeed, Matz aligned a second straight perfect inning, and finally allowed a baserunner on a two-out, inconsequential walk to David Ross in the 3rd. The Cubs did mount something in the 4th, when Jorge Soler led off with a double and Kris Bryant walked; Anthony Rizzo singled to load the bases with no one out, but the Cubs could only plate one run, as Starlin Castro lined out, Kyle Schwarber grounded to first, and Javier Baez popped out.
In the 5th, Matz dropped his chance at earning the win when, after recording the first two outs, he allowed back-to-back singles to Dexter Fowler and Soler. Bartolo Colon replaced him in a double switch and the veteran struck out Bryant to end the inning. The Mets should have added another run in the 6th when Flores led off with a triple against Trevor Cahill, already the fourth Chicago pitcher of the evening, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Granderson hit sharp grounders that did not allow Flores to take a chance at scoring, and Wright hit a grounder to third. They threatened again in the 7th, this time against Pedro Strop. Murphy hit a two-out double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lagares. Duda walked and d'Arnaud was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Kelly Johnson was sent to pinch-hit for Colon, but he struck out, and Flores flied out to end the inning. Under different circumstances, the inability to score a runner from third base with less than two outs in consecutive innings could have been a problem for New York, but in this game, they had a big lead, and the Cubs were still unable to place runners on base to begin anything of their own.
Things got even more dire for the Cubs in the 8th when they sent reclamation project Fernando Rodney to the mound, and he walked Wright after a pair of strikeouts, Next up was Murphy, who was looking for immortality, having homered in a record-tying five straight postseason games; he unleashed on a Rodney fastball by belting it to center field for a two-run homer. He was now the sole record-holder, and had basically clinched the series MVP award with the Mets up 8-1. The Cubs made one last stir, when Soler doubled to lead off the bottom of the inning against Tyler Clippard and Bryant went deep on a full count to make the score 8-3. That was the end though. Even with a five-run lead, Jeurys Familia came out to close the ballgame, and he did it while allowing only a two-out walk to Miguel Montero. The Mets were headed to the World Series.
- D. Francis Barry (Dan Barry): "Even in the Language of 1908, the Cubs Come Up Losers", The New York Times, October 22, 2015. 
- Paul Casella: "NLCS: Cubs-Mets position by position", mlb.com, October 16, 2015. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Ruthless Mets show no mercy, flatten Cubs on way to World Series", USA Today Sports, October 21, 2015. 
- Greg W. Prince: Amazin' Again: How the 2015 New York Mets Brought the Magic Back to Queens, Sports Publishing LLC, New York, NY, 2016. ISBN 978-1-61321-945-8
|Major League Baseball National League Championship Series