It was a frequent refrain from baseball pundits that the New York Mets could be a dangerous postseason team because their pitching could cause a lot of trouble for opposing hitters.
It hasn’t just been the pitching that’s put them up 2-0 ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series.
Murphy’s baseball law: Homering
Daniel Murphy is the least likely player in major-league history to homer in four straight games in a single postseason.
Each of the other players on that list has had at least three 20-homer seasons in their career. Murphy has never hit more than 14 home runs in a season.
Murphy had one streak of homering in consecutive games in his career before this postseason, and that was in 2009.
His five home runs in one postseason is a Mets record.
According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Murphy is the third player in postseason history to hit a home run off the regular season major league leader(s) in wins, ERA and strikeouts (Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw). In 2006, Frank Thomas homered off Johan Santana, who led the majors in all three categories, and in 1963 Mickey Mantle homered off Sandy Koufax, who led the majors in all three categories.
Three players have homered against Arrieta, Greinke, Kershaw and Jon Lester: Carlos Gonzalez, Giancarlo Stanton and now Murphy. Murphy had never homered off any of them during the regular season, and he has now homered off each of them this postseason.
Noah Syndergaard became the second-youngest Mets starting pitcher to win a postseason game. At age 23, he’s about a month and a half younger than Gary Gentry was when he won Game 3 of the 1969 World Series.
Both pitchers were aided by outfield defense: Gentry by a great catch by center fielder Tommie Agee that saved two runs, Syndergaard on a leaping snag by Curtis Granderson by the right-field fence.
Mets pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer in three straight postseason games. The three other years in which they did that -- 1969, 1973 and 2000 -- the Mets went to the World Series.
At-bat to remember: Rizzo vs. Niese
The Cubs never brought the tying run to the plate once the Mets took the lead. They had arguably their best chance to put a dent in the Mets' advantage after they scored in the sixth inning to cut the lead to 4-1. With a run in and Anthony Rizzo up with a man on base, the Mets brought in Jonathon Niese to relieve Syndergaard.
Niese had faced Rizzo 21 times in his career and never struck him out. He had one strikeout among the 15 batters he faced in relief at the end of the regular season. But in the postseason, Niese has come in twice and recorded two strikeouts, including an inning-ender against Rizzo.
Rizzo is now 2-for-18 against Niese in his career (with two hit-by-pitches).
Both hits came against pitches in the upper half of the strike zone.
Niese didn’t throw an upper-half pitch among the seven he threw to Rizzo on Sunday.
A Familia finish
Jeurys Familia recorded his fourth save of the postseason and his second in two days with a scoreless ninth inning.
Familia’s four postseason saves are the most by a Mets pitcher in his career.