Game Recap: Anthony Rizzo Sends Mets to Fourth Straight Loss

By Matt Musico

Well, so much for getting healthy against the worst team in baseball. Similar to their series in Houston against the Astros earlier this year, the Mets lack of defense and clutch hitting is making the Cubs look like a playoff contender. Last night, it was the debut of Anthony Rizzo that had most of Wrigley Field buzzing, and he gave the fans plenty to cheer about.

Mets Offensive Highlights:

New York took an early lead in the second inning by once again, starting their rally after the first two hitters were retired. Scott Hairston and Daniel Murphy singled to put runners on first and second, bringing up  Josh Thole, who got the scoring started with an RBI single to right field. Behind him Dillon Gee helped himself with a run scoring single of his own, increasing the Met lead to 2-0 at the time. After the Cubs took the lead in the third, Thole and the Mets went back to work in the top of the fourth. Thole singled again, followed by a walk to Gee; Kirk Nieuwenhuis sacrificed them over to second and third with a bunt, then a walk to Ruben Tejada loaded the bases. David Wrightwas able to do the job by hitting a sacrifice fly to right field.

Cubs Offensive Highlights:

The show was stolen by Anthony Rizzo, who made his MLB debut last night and collected two hits, including driving in the go-ahead run. The scoring started in the bottom of the third; David DeJesus led off the inning with a single, followed by a walk to Starlin Castro. With one out, Alfonso Soriano produced an RBI groundout for the first run. Brian LaHair walked, then Luis Valbuena doubled in another run, putting men on second and third. Tejada couldn’t field a Darwin Barney groundball, which he deflected toward Daniel Murphy; that scored LaHair, but Valbuena was called out at home. In the fourth, Rizzo got in on the party; Steve Clevenger and Castro singled in front of him, as Rizzo doubled to center, bringing in what eventually would be the game-winning run. In the eighth, Chicago was able to score an insurance run off a single by pinch hitter Reed Johnson.

Pitching Highlights:

Neither starter pitched very well last night, which left both of them with no-decisions. Dillon Gee threw 93 pitches in 5 innings of work, giving up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 4 earned runs while striking out 6. Terry Collins used four pitchers behind Gee to pitch the final three innings (Jeremy Hefner, Tim Byrdak, Justin Hampson, and Miguel Batista), and Hampson was the only pitcher to get touched up for a run, while it was unearned.

For the Cubs, Randy Wells did even worse, as it took him nearly 80 pitches to get through 3 innings; he surrendered 6 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs on 3 strikeouts. However, to make up the final six innings, Dale Svuem only had to use five relievers (Scott Maine, James Russell, Shawn Camp, and Carlos Marmol). Maine threw two innings of hitless relief for the win, and Marmol was the only Cub reliever not to throw more than one inning, but he registered his fifth save of the year.

Worth Noting:

Tejada’s throwing error was the 59th of the year for the Mets, which is the fourth highest total in Major League Baseball. David Wright went 0-for-3 last night, ending his 15-game hitting streak, and his .354 average is only behind Carlos Ruiz (.361) for the league lead. Murphy did register a hit last night, but he came up in big situations all night despite being dropped in the lineup and left five men on base. As a team, the Mets once again struggled with runners in scoring position, going 2-for-9 and leaving 12 stranded, while the Cubs went 4-for-11.

Both Washington and the Braves won, so the fourth straight loss by the Mets now puts them in sole possession of third place with a 39-36 record, 4.5 games out. Terry Collins’ squad continues to struggle on the road, now 16-19 in 2012.

Probable Pitchers Wednesday:

Jonathon Niese (5-3, 3.75 ERA) looks to salvage the finale against the Cubs, who will be sending out Jeff Samardjiza (5-6, 4.34 ERA) as they go for a sweep. First pitch at Wrigley is scheduled for 2:20pm.