The Latest: Mets sweep Cubs, advance to World Series
The Associated Press
Oct. 22, 2015
The latest from the League Championship Series (all times EDT):
No doubt there are plenty of happy Mets fans in New York. There were plenty at Wrigley Field, too, more than an hour after their team wrapped up a trip to the World Series.
A few hundred fans cheered behind the visitors' dugout long after the Mets swept Chicago in the NLCS to head back to the World Series for the first time since 2000.
Chants of "Let's go, Mets!" rang out in the friendly confines and the cheers grew even louder when some of the Mets players and coaches returned to the field after their champagne-soaked celebration inside.
The New York Mets are heading back to the World Series for the fifth time and first since 2000.
New York got another standout performance from Daniel Murphy and early home runs by Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud off Chicago Cubs starter Jason Hammel to win Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. The final was 8-3.
Murphy went 4-5 and his two-run home run in the eighth inning was his sixth consecutive playoff game with a long ball — a major league record. He was named the NLCS MVP moments after the final out.
The Mets will await the winner of the ALCS between Toronto and Kansas City. The Blue Jays trail 3-2, but beat the Royals 7-1 earlier Wednesday to send the series back to Kansas City for Game 6.
Daniel Murphy is in rare territory.
The New York Mets slugger set a postseason record Wednesday by hitting a home run for a sixth consecutive game. He connected off Fernando Rodney with a two-run shot in the eighth inning to give the Mets an 8-1 lead in an NLCS they led 3-0 coming into the game.
On Tuesday night, Murphy had tied the homer streak mark set by Carlos Beltran in 2004.
"Meet the Mets. Step right up and greet the Mets!"
As team songs go, it's not very catchy.
But with New York on their way to the National League pennant, you're almost certainly going to be hearing an awful lot of it around this time next week. Especially if the Mets, one of the best teams on the road in the majors this season, stay sizzling hot.
Because of an American League win in the All-Star game, whichever team emerges between AL contenders Toronto and Kansas City will be hosting the first two World Series contests. With a win in Chicago, the Mets would improve to 4-1 on the road this postseason.
The Cubs finally got a hit off Steven Matz.
Anthony Rizzo cracked the left-hander's spell with a line-drive single to left in the bottom of the fourth to load the bases with Chicago trailing 6-0 and no one out. But the rally fizzled fast.
Kyle Schwarber delivered an RBI groundout sandwiched between Starlin Castro's line-out to third and Javier Baez's foul popout behind third base. Matz made his nifty escape having surrendered just the lone run.
Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes was pulled in the second inning of Game 4 of the NLCS due to left shoulder soreness.
Cespedes walked and scored on Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the first. He struck out looking in the second and was replaced by Juan Lagares before the bottom half of the inning.
The Mets were leading the Cubs 6-0 in the top of the fourth inning.
If the past is prologue, the Cubs may want to get a head start at cleaning out their lockers.
First-inning jitters — and the Mets' home-run hitters taking advantage of them to build a lead — have gone a long way toward explaining why Chicago is down 3-0 in games. In what has become a disturbing pattern, back-to-back homers by Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud off Cubs starter Jason Hammel put New York ahead 4-0 in the top half of the first.
If Cubs manager Joe Maddon has any tricks left up his sleeve, this might be a good time to start using them. His team went down quietly in the bottom half of the opening frame and Hammel was pulled for Travis Wood after walking the first batter he saw in the second inning. He was booed throughout his walk to the dugout by Cubs fans staring at a National League pennant drought that dates to 1945.
From one T.C. to another: Mets coach Terry Collins has been getting encouragement from a New York coach who knows a thing or two about winning.
The Giants' Tom Coughlin has texted him several times during this run.
"I'm extremely impressed he would take the time," Collins said. "He's got a lot going on his plate right now to take the time. But he called me when we won the division, congratulating me."
He has had a tough time reaching him because it's "like getting through to the president when you call the Giants." But Collins did leave a message.
The two don't know each other. But they have some things in common, besides their initials.
Both have endured criticism. And if the Mets win the World Series, both will have led New York teams to championships.
Veteran David Ross is starting at catcher for the Cubs.
Manager Joe Maddon said he decided to go with the right-handed hitting Ross over Miguel Montero with lefty Steven Matz starting for the Mets. He would also catch Jon Lester as he usually does in Game 5 Thursday if the Cubs extend the series.
Ross is hitless in three at-bats over two playoff games after batting .176 during the regular season. Montero is 2 for 20 in the postseason.
Marco Estrada pitched one-hit ball into the eighth inning, giving Toronto's tattered bullpen a rest and leading the Blue Jays over the Kansas City Royals 7-1 Wednesday to close to 3-2 in the American League Championship Series.
Toronto forced the series back to Kansas City, where Yordano Ventura will start for the defending AL champions on Friday against David Price in Game 6.
Right-hander Marco Estrada left with a 6-1 lead after giving up back-to-back two-out hits in the eighth inning.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez homered into the right-field bullpen for Kansas City's first run of the game and Alex Gordon followed with a single.
Estrada got a huge cheer and a standing ovation from the crowd of 49,325 as he was replaced by right-hander Aaron Sanchez.
With the Blue Jays facing elimination, Estrada allowed one run and three hits, struck out five and walked one.
Estrada retired his first nine batters before Alcides Escobar singled to begin the fourth. Ben Zobrist followed by grounding into a double play.
The Royals didn't have another runner until Lorenzo Cain's two-out walk in the seventh.
Troy Tulowitzki gave the Blue Jays a 5-0 lead with a three-run double off Kansas City's Kelvin Herrera, the only hit in Toronto's four-run sixth inning.
Edinson Volquez walked Ben Revere starting the inning, then hit Josh Donaldson with a pitch. Jose Bautista ended a 10-pitch at bat by laying off a close 3-2 pitch that had the Royals bench upset at plate umpire Dan Iassogna's call. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a bases-loaded walk, bringing Herrera on in relief.
After Chris Colabello struck out on three pitches, Tulowitzki lined the first pitch on one hop off the wall in left-center.
Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada has allowed just one hit through his first six innings.
Marco Estrada and Edinson Volquez are locked in quite a duel in Game 5 of the ALCS. Estrada has allowed one hit and faced the minimum through five innings. Volquez made one mistake and Chris Colabello sent it over the left-field wall for a 1-0 lead. The Game 1 winner, Volquez has allowed just three hits.
Alcides Escobar, who else?, had the first hit off Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, a groundball single past a diving shortstop Troy Tulowitzki leading off the fourth inning. Estrada then got Ben Zobrist to ground into a double play. Lorenzo Cain popped out to second to end the inning.
Escobar entered Game 5 batting .600 in the series.
Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada is perfect one time through the Royals' lineup, retiring all nine batters. Kansas City's Edinson Volquez has made only one mistake, and Chris Colabello hit it for a home run in the second. 1-0 Blue Jays in Game 5.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer made a fine over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right field to retire Edwin Encarnacion for the first out of the second inning in a scoreless Game 5 of the ALCS.
Hosmer made the catch right on the foul line with his back turned toward the infield.
Several Royals players stood on the top step of the dugout and held their caps aloft to salute the catch.
Toronto's Chris Colabello followed with a ball no one could catch, hitting a solo homer to left-center off Edinson Volquez. It was the first hit by either team.
It's Oct. 21, 2015, the day Marty McFly traveled from 1985 to 2015 in "Back to the Future II," and the Blue Jays were playing along. Just before the lineups were announced before Game 5, Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love," the song made famous in the first film of the series, played over the PA system.
Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was photographed wearing a pair of sneakers that looked a lot like the self-lacing shoes that Michael J. Fox wore in the movie.
One loss away from elimination in the ALCS, the Blue Jays don't have $82 million catcher Russell Martin in the starting lineup against Kansas City's Edinson Volquez.
Dioner Navarro is behind the plate and batting seventh, because he's worked well with Toronto right-hander Marco Estrada. The pair teamed up in 20 of Estrada's 28 starts.
Martin, who signed a five-year contract with Toronto last November. He hit .240 with a career-best 23 home runs and 77 RBIs this season.
Navarro, who is in the final year of a two-year, $8 million deal, hit .246 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 54 games.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez has taken a beating this series, with fouls hitting off his mask, collarbone and one right below the Rawlings gold label — only for Gold Glove winners — on his chest protector, and that was just in Game 4. During the ALDS he even underwent concussion testing.
But Perez gave a broad smile when he sat down in the pregame interview room and blurted out, "I feel great today, guys! Thank you very much."
Manager John Gibbons knows do-or-die games this year. His Blue Jays trailed the AL Division Series 2-0 then won three straight to advance. The task is more daunting now, trailing the Royals 3-1 in the best-of-seven set. But his club could look no further than its own history for some motivation: Toronto led Kansas City 3-1 in the 1985 ALCS and lost.
Gibbons said in his pregame talk, David Price, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna and even R.A. Dickey, who threw only 48 pitches Tuesday in Game 4, are all available.