NEW YORK – Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided not to mess with top-of-the order success for Wednesday night’s game against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
For the second straight game, Maddon went with a 1-2-3 of Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ and Kris Bryant.
The unconventional move of having first baseman Rizzo bat leadoff paid immediate dividends in Tuesday night’s 14-3 victory over the Mets. Rizzo began the game with a home run, and he later added a run-scoring walk and an RBI double. Happ hit a grand slam in the second inning.
Rizzo wasted absolutely no time Wednesday night putting the Cubs ahead, as he hit the first pitch of the game from Matt Harvey out of the park to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Happ followed with a homer of his own.
That part of the game was fine for the Cubs, but they had problems with defense and with holding a lead as the Mets took the rubber game of the series, 9-4, scoring five runs in the eighth inning. Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth inning off Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to break a 4-4 tie. It was Granderson’s 300th career homer.
“When I wrote it yesterday, I thought that the top three would definitely stay static,” Maddon said of his batting order. “I thought they would through the rest of the series.”
Maddon generally doesn’t base his next game’s lineup off of either success or failure the previous day. But several factors were involved in Wednesday’s decision.
Rizzo, until further notice, is the leadoff man, as Maddon and the Cubs have been searching desperately for some spark out of the top spot.
Right fielder Jason Heyward was getting a start off Wednesday, and Maddon told Miguel Montero he would start the series finale against the Mets. Montero batted cleanup.
Lefty Mike Montgomery started for the Cubs, and he gave up an unearned run in the second. Third baseman Kris Bryant bobbled Jose Reyes’ two-out bouncer allowing a run to score.
Kyle Schwarber put the Cubs up, 4-1, in the fourth with a massive two-run homer to right-center. It was Schwarber’s home run of the season.
The Mets came within a run in the fourth, when they scored three runs on three hits. Montgomery was done after five innings. He gave up six hits.
The Mets tied the game in the bottom of the sixth against Pedro Strop, who walked Granderson to start the inning. After getting two strikeouts, Strop gave up a run-scoring triple to Juan Lagares.
The Mets blew the game open in the eighth. Edwards was on the mound for his second inning of work when Granderson opened with the homer. Reyes walked, and pinch hitter Yoenis Cespedes singled. At that point, Maddon turned to Hector Rondon out of the bullpen. Lagares lined out, but Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer. The Mets wound up sending nine men to the plate in the inning.