2015 National League Championship Series
|2015 National League Championship Series|
|MVP||Daniel Murphy (New York)|
|Umpires||Ted Barrett (crew chief), Eric Cooper, Rob Drake (Games 1–2), Tim Timmons, Paul Emmel, Bill Miller, and Mark Wegner (Games 3–4)|
|TV announcers||Ernie Johnson, Cal Ripken Jr., Ron Darling, Matt Winer, and Sam Ryan|
|Radio announcers||Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton|
The 2015 National League Championship Series was a best-of-seven playoff contested between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets for the National League (NL) pennant and the right to play in the 2015 World Series. The Mets swept the Cubs four games to none for their fifth National League pennant in franchise history. The series was the 46th in league history with TBS airing all games in the United States. Game 1 was played on October 17.
This was the first postseason meeting between the Mets and Cubs, and first NLCS in which the losing team never had a lead during a game. It was also the first since 2007 to end in a sweep and the third best-of-seven NLCS to do so (the other being in 1995).
The Chicago Cubs finished the 2015 season with a 97–65 record, the third best record in the majors. With new manager Joe Maddon and the great play of pitcher Jake Arrieta and hitters Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, the Cubs experienced their best season since 2008 when they also won 97 games. Despite their record, the Cubs only received the second Wild Card bid and had to travel to play the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2015 National League Wild Card Game, where they won 4–0. They then advanced to the NLCS by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 3 games to 1 in the NLDS. This was the first time the Cubs won a postseason series at Wrigley Field. It is their first appearance in the NLCS since 2003 and their fourth appearance overall. It also snapped the Cardinals' NLCS appearance streak at four; they had appeared in every NLCS from 2011 to 2014, winning in 2011 and 2013.
The New York Mets made their first playoff appearance since 2006 with help from their starting pitchers Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard as well the late season acquisition of hitter Yoenis Céspedes. The Mets finished 2015 with a 90–72 record, clinching the National League East on September 26 with a 10–2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. They defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games in the 2015 NLDS, their first playoff series played at Citi Field since its opening in 2009. This is the second straight NLDS in which the Mets clinched in L.A., advancing to the NLCS for the first time since 2006 and their eighth appearance overall.
During the 2015 regular season, the Cubs won all seven games against the Mets.
New York won the series, 4–0.
|1||October 17||Chicago Cubs – 2, New York Mets – 4||Citi Field||2:55||44,287|
|2||October 18||Chicago Cubs – 1, New York Mets – 4||Citi Field||3:07||44,502|
|3||October 20||New York Mets – 5, Chicago Cubs – 2||Wrigley Field||3:01||42,231|
|4||October 21||New York Mets – 8 Chicago Cubs – 3||Wrigley Field||3:32||42,227|
|WP: Matt Harvey (1–0) LP: Jon Lester (0–1) Sv: Jeurys Familia (1)|
CHC: Kyle Schwarber (1)
NYM: Daniel Murphy (1), Travis d'Arnaud (1)
Having used aces Jake Arrieta and Jacob deGrom late in their respective Division Series, the Cubs turned to Jon Lester and the Mets to Matt Harvey for Game 1 of the Championship Series. Daniel Murphy, fresh off a Division Series in which he hit three home runs, jumped Lester early on with a home run in the first inning. Lester would settle down, only allowing that lone run through four innings, but Harvey was even better, throwing four perfect innings as he blew away the Cubs hitters.
After getting ahead of Anthony Rizzo on an 0–2 count, Harvey came inside with a fastball and plunked the Cubs first baseman on the arm, allowing Rizzo to reach base as the first Cubs baserunner of the night. The next batter, Starlin Castro, jumped Harvey for a double that eluded the reach of Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares in center field that scored Rizzo and knotted the game at one. Harvey would retire the following batter, Jorge Soler, on a groundout to third, forcing Castro to hold at second, but subsequently allowed a base hit to left by Javier Báez. Testing the strong arm of left fielder Yoenis Céspedes, Castro attempted to score on the hit by Báez, but was thrown out at the plate by Céspedes in plenty of time, helping Harvey escape the inning having only allowed the one run.
In the bottom of the fifth, Wilmer Flores and Lagares would both reach on one-out singles against Lester, bringing up Harvey with runners on first and second. The Met starter attempted to move the runners over with a sacrifice bunt, but did so right towards the first baseman Rizzo who fired over to third to force out Flores for the second out of the inning. The third baseman Kris Bryant attempted to make a return throw to first base which may have forced out Harvey for a double play, but Bryant fumbled the ball from his glove hand to his throwing hand, allowing the inning to continue. The next batter, Curtis Granderson, then blooped a single into center field to score Lagares and help the Mets regain the lead.
Once again with the lead Harvey would regain control and blank the Cubs in the top halves of the sixth and seventh, while the Mets would add runs off of Lester. Travis d'Arnaud hit a home run in the sixth inning off of Citi Field's Home Run Apple in center field. The Mets would then manufacture another run in the seventh after a Lagares leadoff single. After Harvey sacrificed Lagares to second, the Met center fielder stole third with one out, setting up a Granderson sacrifice fly to make it a 4–1 game.
With Harvey still pitching into the eighth, Kyle Schwarber smoked a home run deep into the Cubs bullpen in right center, ending Harvey's night after 7⅔ innings, having allowed only two runs and four hits to go along with nine strikeouts.
|WP: Noah Syndergaard (1–0) LP: Jake Arrieta (0–1) Sv: Jeurys Familia (2)|
NYM: Daniel Murphy (2)
Looking to rebound and tie the series, the Cubs turned to ace Jake Arrieta in a matchup against Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard. Much like in Game 1, the Mets got on the board in the first inning after a Curtis Granderson single, a David Wright RBI double, and a Daniel Murphy two-run home run to give the Mets a 3–0 lead through three batters against Arrieta. For Wright, it was his first hit and RBI since Game 1 of the NLDS. Murphy's home run extended his streak of consecutive postseason games with a home run to four, and also gave him five home runs for the entire postseason, a Mets record. The Mets added another run in the third on Yoenis Cespedes's RBI single to score Granderson.
The four runs were all Syndergaard needed. He pitched 5⅔ innings, striking out nine while only walking one. He allowed only three hits, the last of which was a Kris Bryant RBI double that plated the only run against him and ended his outing in the sixth inning. Met relievers Jon Niese, Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia combined for 3⅓ scoreless innings to finish off the win, giving the Mets a 2–0 series lead.
|WP: Jacob deGrom (1–0) LP: Trevor Cahill (0–1) Sv: Jeurys Familia (3)|
NYM: Daniel Murphy (3)
CHC: Kyle Schwarber (2), Jorge Soler (1)
Hosting their first NLCS game at Wrigley Field in 12 years, the Cubs started Kyle Hendricks in an attempt to pick up their first win of the series. Though Mets leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson reached base after an error by shortstop Javier Báez, he was caught stealing to negate the misplay. The Mets still scored one run in the frame after a Yoenis Céspedes RBI double, but the caught stealing proved costly as the Mets were unable to capitalize any further. The Cubs tied the game in the bottom half of the inning after a Kyle Schwarber opposite field home run off of Mets ace Jacob deGrom, but they too missed an opportunity to inflict further damage. Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro hit back-to-back two-out singles off of deGrom, but Jorge Soler grounded out to end the threat with the game still tied at 1–1.
Daniel Murphy continued his historic hot streak with yet another home run, a shot to center field to give the Mets back the lead in the top of the third. For Murphy, it was his sixth home run of the postseason, making him the all-time Mets postseason home run leader in just eight games. It was also his fifth consecutive postseason game with a home run, tying Carlos Beltrán's all-time mark from the 2004 postseason. The Cubs tied the game on a Soler home run in the fourth, but deGrom allowed nothing further. After a first inning where he gave up three hits, the only hit that deGrom allowed was the Soler home run. Meanwhile, Hendricks was pulled after four innings as Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen starting in the fifth.
Left-hander Clayton Richard escaped the fifth inning unscored upon after inducing a double play from Murphy to retire the side. Right-hander Trevor Cahill was called upon next for the sixth, and he promptly gave up a single to Céspedes to lead off the inning. The struggling Lucas Duda, at that point just 3-for-23 in the postseason, attempted to bunt against the infield shift, but was thrown out at first for what was ruled a sacrifice, advancing Céspedes to second. Céspedes then stole third base with one out, but Cahill retired Travis d'Arnaud on a ground out to third with the infield drawn in, forcing Céspedes to hold at third. The following batter, rookie Michael Conforto, saw nothing but curveballs from Cahill, who often bounced his curveballs despite the go-ahead run being on third base. Catcher Miguel Montero was up to the task of blocking Cahill's curveballs in the dirt until the 2-2 pitch when Conforto chased another curveball for strike three. Montero could not handle this last curveball, allowing it to get past him and roll to the backstop. Conforto would reach first safely after the uncaught third strike while Céspedes scored to give the Mets back the lead for the third time.
The Mets were presented with more opportunities in the seventh due to more defensive miscues by the Cubs. With one out and facing new reliever Travis Wood, David Wright doubled down the line in left, narrowly beating the throw from the left fielder Schwarber. The next batter Murphy hit a soft tapper towards the hole between the third baseman Kris Bryant and the shortstop Báez. Bryant fielded the ball moving to his left but double-clutched before throwing to first, allowing Murphy to reach safely for an infield single as Wright advanced to third. Looking for a strikeout, Maddon inserted Justin Grimm to replace Wood, but Céspedes would follow with a line drive to deep left that glanced off of Schwarber's glove, going for what was ruled to be a long RBI single with Wright scoring, Murphy advancing to third, and Céspedes reaching second after Schwarber's throw went to third. Duda followed with a run-scoring groundout fielded by Rizzo, who elected to step on first base to force out Duda before throwing home, giving Murphy extra time to score from third.
With the Mets up 5–2, deGrom shut the Cubs down with a perfect seventh inning, ending his night having only allowed four hits and two runs while striking out seven. He would pick up the win after Jeurys Familia finished off the ninth for his third save in as many games in the series and his fifth save of the postseason, giving the Mets a commanding 3–0 series lead.
|WP: Bartolo Colón (1–0) LP: Jason Hammel (0–1)|
NYM: Lucas Duda (1), Travis d'Arnaud (2), Daniel Murphy (4)
CHC: Kris Bryant (1)
The Cubs entered Game 4 facing the daunting task of having to overcome a 3–0 series deficit, done only once in MLB history when the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees after losing the first three games of the 2004 ALCS. Attempting to repeat the accomplishment was Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who was the general manager of the Red Sox in 2004.
However, as had happened in every previous game of the series, the Mets took the first lead of the game in the first inning. Lucas Duda, just 1-for-6 in the series in the first three games, launched a three-run home run to center field against Cubs starter Jason Hammel to get the Mets off to a fast start again. The next batter, Travis d'Arnaud, also took Hammel deep with an opposite field home run to make it 4–0 before the Cubs would even step up to the plate. After Mets starter Steven Matz quickly retired the side in order in the bottom of the first, Hammel issued a one-out walk to David Wright in top of the second, ending his night as Joe Maddon quickly went to his bullpen. Reliever Travis Wood allowed a two-run double to Duda later in the inning, making it a 6–0 game.
Matz held the Cubs hitless through three innings, but Chicago mounted its first rally in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with nobody out for Starlin Castro. Though Castro hit a bullet of a line drive, Wright made a leaping grab at third base to save an extra base hit and at least two runs. The Cubs would score their first run after an RBI groundout from Kyle Schwarber, but Javier Báez popped out in foul territory near the Cubs bullpen, stranding two runners and leaving the Cubs still down 6–1.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Matz looked as though he would retire the Cubs in order, but with two outs a Dexter Fowler fly ball dropped into shallow right field after a misplay by second baseman Daniel Murphy. Fowler, however, was not hustling out of the batter's box and thus only made it to first base. He was not in scoring position when the next batter Jorge Soler singled. Matz was chased from the game as Bartolo Colón was called upon to make his first relief appearance of the series. The veteran Colón struck out Kris Bryant and again the Cubs stranded two baserunners.
The Mets themselves wasted opportunities to extend their lead, getting Wilmer Flores on third with less than two out in the top of the sixth as well as having the bases loaded in the top of the seventh but never scoring in either inning. However, in the top of the eighth inning, New York padded its lead with a two-run home run from Murphy, his fourth home run of the series, his seventh of the postseason, and his sixth consecutive game with a home run, a new postseason record. Though Bryant hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth off Tyler Clippard, he allowed nothing more. Jeurys Familia finished off the sweep by striking out Fowler, sending the Mets back to the World Series for the first time since 2000. After hitting .529 with the four home runs and a 1.294 slugging percentage for the series, Murphy was named series MVP.
In a twist of coincidence, the Cubs' 2015 season ended on the same day as the 2015 World Series that was depicted in the 1989 movie Back to the Future: Part II. In the film, the Cubs swept the fictitious Miami Alligators in four games. The actual 2015 World Series saw the Mets lose to the Kansas City Royals in five games, but the Cubs went on to win the next season's edition, defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven.
Composite line score
|New York Mets||9||2||2||0||1||2||3||2||0||21||35||1|
|Total attendance: 173,247 Average attendance: 43,312|
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