Rookie pitcher Adbert Alzolay was the story of the night in the Cubs-Mets series opener. He turned in an impressive four-plus inning relief performance in his MLB debut, putting and exclamation point on the Cubs’ 7-4 victory.
Alzolay came on in relief of Tyler Chatwood to start the 5th inning with the Cubs leading 6-3. The 24-year-old struck out five Mets and didn’t allow a hit during his first four innings. He did give up a home run to Todd Frazier to lead off the 9th inning, followed by a walk to Wilson Ramos, but the overall effort was incredible.
Alzolay was lifted in favor of Steve Cishek and walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the Wrigley Field crowd. It was a cool moment and one of the more impressive Cubs pitching debuts in recent memory.
Before the Alzolay show commenced, the Cubs took control of the game thanks to a six-run 3rd inning during which they produced five hits. That included an Anthony Rizzo double that scored two runs, and an RBI triple from Javy Báez.
Chatwood got the start for the Cubs filling in for the injured Kyle Hendricks. He allowed at least two baserunners in each of his four innings, but was helped by a solid defense that produced three double plays behind him. He left the game with a 6-3 lead, but did not qualify for the win. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
This was one of the better all-around games the Cubs have played recently. The offense took advantage of a young pitcher and strung together hits during the course of a big inning. Good to see them hang a big number without the benefit of a home run.
With one out in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Daniel Descalso and Mets starter Walker Lockett engaged in an 11-pitch battle that ended in a run-scoring single to plate the first Cubs run. Descalso impressively fouled off five two-strike pitches before delivering the knock. That opened the floodgates for the six-run inning.
Stats that Matter
- Every member of the Cubs’ starting lineup reached base at least once.
- Neither starting pitcher recorded an out via a fly ball to the outfield. Weird.
- Baez hit his 18th home run of the season in the 7th inning and now trails Rizzo by one for the team lead.
- Per Elias, Alzolay became the first Cubs pitcher in the expansion era (1961) to strike out four straight batters in his debut.
It wasn’t pretty at times for Chatwood, but gutting out four innings while only giving up four three runs was enough to give his team a chance. If Alzolay is able to build upon his impressive debut, it should take some pressure off of the front office to find more bullpen help as the trade deadline nears. It will be interesting to see what his role on the pitching staff will be going forward.
The Cubs and Mets will square off in the second game of the four-game set Friday starting at 1:20pm CT. Yu Darvish will take the mound for the Cubs against Mets lefty Jason Vargas. Catch the telecast on NBC Sports Chicago or listen at 670 The Score.