Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (5/1/24): Cubs 1, Mets 0 – Wild Finish Preserves Pitching Masterpiece

For the third consecutive game at Citi Field Wednesday, the Cubs and Mets played an intense contest where offense was extremely hard to come by and both starters shined. Chicago clung to one-run lead all the way to the 9th inning when an improbable double play preserved a win for the road team.

Shōta Imanaga was outstanding, per usual, completely shutting down the Mets from the opening batter. Unfortunately, Cubs hitters struggled just as much against José Buttó and the matchup stayed scoreless through four frames.

The North Siders’ only rally on Wednesday began when the scuffling Matt Mervis hit a ringing double off the right field wall in the 5th inning. Mervis would advance to third on a wild pitch and come home on a sacrifice fly from Pete Crow-Armstrong to give Chicago a 1-0 advantage.

Imanaga eventually completed seven innings without allowing any runs and kept his team in the lead. New York got two runners on base with one out in the 8th against Mark Leiter Jr., who was then lifted for Yency Almonte. The former Dodger was very sharp, striking out Tyrone Taylor and Starling Marte to escape the jam.

Héctor Neris came on for the save and it was another adventure for the de facto closer. He plunked Pete Alonso with one out and Crow-Armstrong just missed a spectacular catch on a double by J.D. Martinez that put runners on second and third. Jeff McNeil then stepped up to the plate and sprayed a fly ball to left fielder Ian Happ.

Alonso tagged on the play and headed for home as Happ’s throw hit cut-off man Nick Madrigal, who spun around and fired to Miguel Amaya to complete a game-ending double play.

It appeared to the naked eye as though Alonso had beaten the throw, but his hand missed the plate and he was ruled out. Following a long review, it was ruled that Amaya had not blocked the plate and that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to overturn the call, thus preserving the Cubs’ 1-0 victory. (Box score)

Key Moment

It really feels like if home plate umpire Charlie Ramos had originally called Alonso safe it would have also stayed that way after review. Chicago did an excellent job of executing the relay throw to make it close enough to be a tough call at the dish. Neris also continues to get away with putting lots of runners on base and his luck will probably run out at some point, but we can worry about that later.

Why the Cubs Won

Just terrific starting pitching and the bullpen barely scraping by were enough to overcome almost a complete lack of offense to preserve a razor-thin lead.

Stats That Matter

  • Imanaga has been nothing short of incredible for the Cubs and he easily could have gone another inning Wednesday: 7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 7 K, and 1 BB.
  • Nico Hoerner had two hits and a walk, which was nice to see because he has slumped during this road trip.
  • Mervis’s double might be the first hard-hit ball he has had since being called up last week.

Bottom Line

The fact that the Cubs continue to win baseball games with an offense struggling this badly is remarkable. Picking up these tough victories now might make the difference between getting to the playoffs and coming up just short as they did in 2023. Even the most optimistic people weren’t expecting Imanaga to be this good, so that’s been a very nice surprise.

On Deck

Chicago tries to win the series Thursday afternoon at 12:10pm CT. Ben Brown gets the nod against former Brewer Adrian Houser in a game broadcast on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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