USA TODAY Sports
Mets lead series 1-0.
The Chicago Cubs send ace Jake Arrieta to the mound against the host New York Mets on Sunday in hopes of evening the National League Championship Series at one win apiece. New York limited Chicago to five hits in the opener and received solo homers from the red-hot Daniel Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud en route to a 4-2 victory.
Arrieta has won 13 consecutive decisions dating back to late July – which includes two postseason wins – in a dynamic turnaround of his career. “I think that our players gain a lot of confidence when he pitches,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in a press conference. “I think that’s a normal part of that, but I think for the most part, it’s just a matter of us being ourselves, trusting ourselves, sticking to our own methods.” Murphy has homered in three straight postseason games – something he never has done in the regular season – to match the franchise mark set by Donn Clendenon in 1969, when the first baseman was named World Series MVP. “Saving the homers,” Murphy joked after Game 1. “If I knew what I was doing, I would have hit more homers during the regular season.”
TV: 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Mets at +160 and the total at 5.5.
WEATHER: Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-40s with wind blowing in from left field at around 9 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (2-0, 2.45 ERA) vs. Mets RH Noah Syndergaard (0-1, 3.68)
Arrieta struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings against St. Louis in his last start, but he also allowed four runs and five hits. He said he noticed a difference during the postseason starts in terms of the pressure and expectations being ratcheted up a notch. “The physical toll really hasn’t bothered me at all, but I think that the mental side of it and all the energy you burn leading up to the game does have a little bit of effect,” Arrieta said at his press conference. “But having a couple of these under my belt now, I’m pretty confident going in that I’ll be able to handle that pretty well.”
The 23-year-old Syndergaard made one start and one relief appearance in the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and said the experience taught him not to change his approach. “I think the anticipation before was thinking that the game was going to be completely different, but in reality it’s still the same game,” Syndergaard said in his press conference. “You’re still 60 feet, 6 inches away. The only thing that’s really different is the crowd’s a little bit louder.” Manager Terry Collins said the rookie also will start Game 6 if the series goes that far.
* Under is 6-2-2 in the last 10 meetings.
* Cubs are 21-8 in the last 29 meetings.
* Cubs are 8-1 in Arrieta’s last nine starts vs. National League East.
* Under is 4-1-1 in Mets last six home games.