The Cubs jumped on Mets starter Chris Bassitt and spotted their own staff a 5-0 lead that looked more and more tenuous as the game went on. Though it certainly didn’t feel very easy over the final six outs, a trio of Cubs relievers was able to prevent disappointment as the visitors took the opening game of their series against a potential title contender.
Young righty Javier Assad was sharp yet again, tossing six innings of one-run ball to earn his first MLB win. He had the changeup working in this one and went to it more than ever before, throwing a total of 12 after combining for just 13 in four previous appearances. The change was still just his fourth-favorite pitch, however, with the cutter (33), four-seam (27), and sinker (17) getting more usage.
Assad also through a few sliders and may have looped a curve in there, at least according to Statcast. By keeping the Mets at bay, he lowered his season ERA to 2.53 and has given the organization some real food for thought when it comes to how they shape the staff for next year. I don’t think even the most depraved prospect perverts out there saw this one coming.
It always helps when your team gives you early runs, which the Cubs did with Rafael Ortega taking Bassitt deep in the 2nd. Zach McKinstry smacked a two-run shot the following inning to make it a 3-0 lead, then Ortega got in on the action again with an RBI single in the 4th. Alfonso Rivas later singled Ortega home to give the Cubs their final run, but they weren’t quite in the clear.
Assad had a bit of a rough patch in 4th when he gave up three singles to allow his only run, but he never found himself in deep water. Mark Leiter Jr. came on in relief and retired the first three batters he faced, then gave up a leadoff single in the 8th. Manny Rodriguez entered and allowed a single and walk on just five pitches before getting a strikeout to relieve a little pressure.
Brandon Hughes induced the final two outs to escape unharmed, then returned for the 9th and gave up a two-out solo shot to Francisco Lindor before nailing it down. This was kind of a weird game, though I can’t really put my finger on why. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
They jumped out to an early lead and managed to keep the Mets from capitalizing with runners on base. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but a win is a win.
Eye on the Future
- Assad sure looks like someone who wants a job next season
- Seiya Suzuki had two more hits and is looking very comfortable here in September
- Hughes has been forced into high leverage and he’s running with the opportunity
- Nico Hoerner was not in the lineup after a triceps issue that cropped up over the weekend
- The Cubs struck out 12 times with just three walks
- McKinstry had two hits and raised his batting average to .204
This felt very much like a spring lineup and the game kind of felt that way too, as though there wasn’t really much to take away. Still, beating the Mets is always cause for celebration.
These two are back at it again Tuesday night as Adrian Sampson takes on Jacob deGrom in a 6:10pm CT start. I’ll be honest, I’m watching this one largely to see deGrom pitch because he’s the best on the planet when he’s on. And judging by his 5-1 record and 1.66 ERA with 63 strikeouts and four walks in 43.1 innings, he’s pitching as well as ever.