Monday, September 12, 2022

Mets Suffer Crushing Loss To Cubs


Javier Assad pitching to Eduardo Escobar in the fourth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets suffered one of their most dismal losses of the seasons, as they fell to the Chicago Cubs, 5-2, on Monday night at Citi Field, with their starting pitcher Chris Bassitt knocked out in the fourth inning, and they left 10 runners on base.

This was the first chance the Mets had to get to 90 wins, but they fell to 89-53. Their lead in the National League East remains at 1 1/2 games over the Atlanta Braves (87-54) after they lost, 3-2, to the San Francisco Giants.

The Cubs got a tremendous outing from their starting pitcher, Javier Assad, who earned his first career win. The right-hander went six innings, and allowed one run (earned) on five hits and three walks, while striking out six. His record on the season, in which has made five outings, is now 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA (earned run average).

The best chance the Mets had against Assad, and what would turn out to be an early turning point came in the first inning.

Francisco Lindor got a one-out single, followed by a walk from Jeff McNeil. Pete Alonso bounced into a force out, but Daniel Vogelbach walked to load the bases for Mark Canha, who hit his first career grand slam on Saturday. Assad struck out Canha to end the inning.

The Cubs promptly took the lead in the second inning when Rafael Ortega launched a blast to right field, his seventh home run of the season, to make it 1-0. This came after Bassitt had retired the first five Cubs batters to open the game.

Rafael Ortega heading back to the Cubs dugout after his home run, with Chris Bassitt looking on. Photo by Jason Schott.

Chicago kept it going in the third when Alfonso Rivas drew a walk to open up the inning, and then with one out, Zach McKinstry hit one to right field into the Mets bullpen for a two-run shot, his third of the year, to make it 3-0.

In the fourth, Ortega and Rivas each had RBI singles to open up a 5-0 lead for the Cubs, and that was all for Bassitt. In one of his toughest outings of the season, he went 3 2/3 innings, and allowed five runs (all earned) on five hits and two walks, with two strikeouts, as he fell to 13-8 with a 3.44 ERA.

Tommy Hunter finished off the fourth, and he stayed on to retire the Cubs in order in the fifth. The Mets' bullpen did not allow a run, as Trevor May then pitched a perfect sixth, notching two strikeouts; Mychal Givens pitched two scoreless innings, in which he worked around two hits and a walk, and struck out five; and Joely Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth in which he struck out two.

The Mets got on the board in the fourth inning, as Canha singled and scored on an RBI single from James McCann.

The best scoring chance the Mets had was in the eighth inning, which began with McNeil getting a single off Mark Leiter, Jr., who had stayed on after pitching a scoreless seventh. Chicago then turned to Manuel Rodriguez, who was greeted by a single from Alonso and Vogelbach then drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out.

Canha then struck out, and Chicago turned to Brandon Hughes for Eduardo Escobar, who had two hits (a single in the fourth and a triple in the sixth) to this point. Escobar connected on one, hitting a fly ball to center, but it was too shallow to bring in Lindor. Darin Ruf then came up to pinch-hit for Tyler Naquin, and he struck out to end the frame.

Hughes stayed on for Chicago in the ninth, and after he retired the first two Mets hitters, Lindor hit a solo shot, his 23rd homer of the season, to make it 5-2 Chicago. McNeil then grounded out to second base to end it, and Hughes earned his fifth save of the season.

GUILLORME ACTIVATED OFF IL: The Mets activated infielder Luis Guillorme off the 10-day injured list on Monday. Guillorme had been out nearly a month since he suffered a left groin strain on August 14 running the bases in their win that day over the Phillies. In 86 games this season, Guillorme is hitting .283 with 2 home runs and 14 RBI, and an on-base percentage of .355.

Mets Manager Buck Showalter said of getting Guillorme back in the lineup in his pregame press conference on Monday afternoon, "We had some guys who did a good job in his absence. There's a lot of things he brings. One of the things you talk about with players, when they're on your club or you're trying to acquire them, is  'do they make your teammates better?' Having Luis here kind of gives us a nice safety net in a lot of places and a lot of things in-game we missed him. Excited to have him back."

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