Matt Harvey was brilliant, while Daniel Murphy was spectacular from the beginning – and at the end – and together they combined to give the Mets a 4-2 victory in Game 1 of the NLCS over the Chicago Cubs at a frigid Citi Field.
The Mets were 0-7 against the Cubs in the regular season, but one more time, this isn’t the regular season. It is rapidly becoming a special offseason for the Mets, after their scintillating performance in disposing of the Dodgers in the NLDS and what we saw tonight.
Harvey put down the first dozen Cubs he faced, and after taking a line drive in the back of his pitching arm in the sixth, worked into the eighth.
Here is how fortunate Harvey was … after the ball hit his arm it floated into the air and bounced off his back. Without that bounce, the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler would have beaten Harvey’s throw to first.
“I wanted this game bad,’’ Harvey said. “The most important thing was starting this thing right. I knew I had to set the tone early.’’
Working on regular rest, Harvey gave the Mets 7.2 innings, and gave up only four hits and struck out nine. He is expected to start Game 5 when the NLCS returns to New York.
Meanwhile, Murphy who accounted for all three runs in the Mets’ Game 5 win in Los Angeles, put the Mets on the board with first-inning homer off Jon Lester. Murphy has hit four homers this postseason, one of Jake Arietta and Lester, and two off Clayton Kershaw.
Murphy then ended the game when he robbed Tommy La Stella of a hit with a diving stab.
Of course, Murphy credited everybody but the hot dog vender after the game before charming us with his typical Gomer Pyle “aw shucks’’ attitude.
“This is a lot of fun,’’ Murphy said. “I like doing these interviews because it means we won. What a nice start to the series.’’
As Murphy continues to rake, so does the storyline of his pending free-agency. The Mets aren’t likely to sign him to a multi-year deal, but they could lock him up with a $16-million qualifying offer. If they don’t, GM Sandy Alderson will be hard-pressed to explain his reasoning, especially if the Mets go on and win the World Series.
Meanwhile, considering the Mets built a three-run lead, it is curious as to why, considering their lead, the cold and the bruise on the back of Harvey’s arm, why manager Terry Collins let him work into the eighth before going to closer Jeurys Familia.
If this goes seven games as many expect, Collins will have to use his normal regular season relievers.