Author: Bill Baer

Daniel Murphy
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

Mets strike first, take early 3-0 lead over the Cubs in NLCS Game 2

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The Mets had a 3-0 lead before Cubs starter Jake Arrieta was able to record an out in the bottom of the first inning of NLCS Game 2. Curtis Granderson ripped a line drive single through the shift on the right side, and David Wright then smoked a double to right-center field. Granderson scored easily.

The run was the first Arrieta had allowed in the first inning in his last 26 starts. But the Mets weren’t done. Daniel Murphy snuck a line drive just inside the foul pole down the right field line for a two-run home run, his fifth long ball of the post-season, setting a new Mets record.

Arrieta was able to get Yoenis Cespedes to pop up foul near first base, then struck out Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud to end the frame. Noah Syndergaard will head back to the mound with a three-run lead.

If there’s a bright side for the Cubs, they’ll have eight turns at bat to try and make up the deficit.

Cubs tab Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel for NLCS Games 3 and 4

Kyle Hendricks
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon has tabbed Kyle Hendricks for the start in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Mets, and will likely go with Jason Hammel in Game 4, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reports. Maddon was presumably non-committal for Game 4 because if the Cubs fall behind 3-0, he might prefer to go with Jon Lester in a do-or-die game.

Hendricks allowed three runs on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings in his start against the Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLDS. Hammel started Game 4 against the Cardinals, yielding two runs on three hits and three walks with two strikeouts in three innings.

Dusty Baker’s interest in managing the Padres not reciprocated

Dusty Baker
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Per Scott Miller of Bleacher Report, Dusty Baker contacted the Padres about their open manager position but the Padres weren’t interested. Miller adds that Baker is quite intent on managing again.

Baker, 66, has 20 years of managing experience under his belt. He spent 10 years with the Giants between 1993-2002, four years with the Cubs between 2003-06, and six years with the Reds between 2008-13. Baker has an 840-715 (.540) record as a manager.

The Nationals and Marlins reportedly have considered Baker for their vacant manager positions.

The Mets put a bandage on the Home Run Apple where Travis d’Arnaud’s homer landed

Travis d'Arnaud
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud hit a monster solo homer in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night against Cubs starter Jon Lester. As fate would have it, the ball struck the Home Run Apple in center field at Citi Field, causing a slight amount of damage.

The Mets found humor in the property damage, applying a bandage where the ball landed. Via’s Anthony DiComo:

Yankees fire hitting coach Jeff Pentland

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 24: Hitting coach Jeff Pentland #61 and Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees speak during batting practice before the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 24, 2015 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Yankees 10-1. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland.

“I am not coming back,’’ Jeff Pentland told The Post Sunday from Arizona. “When I signed, I was told it was probably a one-year deal. That was always in the back of my mind, but we didn’t look too good the last month. It’s the Yankees, that’s the best way to describe it. I have no regrets.’’

The Yankees averaged 4.72 runs per game during the 2015 regular season, the second-highest mark in baseball. However, as Pentland alluded to, the Yankees’ offense fizzled in the second half, going from 5.5 runs per game in July to 4.7 in August and 4.2 in September and October.

Pentland, 69, took over as hitting coach for Kevin Long, who joined the Mets. The Yankees’ successor to Pentland, whoever it may be, will be their third hitting coach in as many years. King suggests Alan Cockrell, Raul Ibanez, James Rowsen, and Marcus Thames could be considered for the opening.

King notes that bullpen coach and catching instructor Gary Tuck is also not being brought back for the 2016 season.