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Mets defeat Cubs 4-2 behind Matt Harvey’s stellar outing to take the first game of the NLCS

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Matt Harvey pitched 7 2/3 dominant innings for the Mets as they took down the Cubs 4-2 on Saturday night in the opening game of the NLCS at Citi Field. It’s the Mets’ first Championship Series win since Game 6 in 2006 against the Cardinals.

Daniel Murphy opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run off of Cubs starter Jon Lester. Curtis Granderson broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth with an RBI single. Travis d'Arnaud tacked on a monster solo homer in the sixth and Granderson contributed a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Harvey hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch to open up the fifth, then gave up a double to center field off the bat of Starlin Castro in the top of the fifth, leading to the first of his two runs. With two outs in the eighth, Harvey served up a no-doubt solo homer to right-center to Kyle Schwarber before exiting the game. He finished allowing the two runs on four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. Lester lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Closer Jeurys Familia took over for Harvey with two outs in the eighth and walked Kris Bryant, but got out of the inning when Anthony Rizzo grounded out to shortstop. In the ninth, Familia got Starlin Castro to pop up and Jorge Soler to strike out for two quick outs. Miguel Montero kept hope alive with a single, which ended a streak of 18 consecutive batters retired in the post-season by Familia. Daniel Murphy made an outstanding play on a Tommy La Stella well-struck one-hopper to end the game with a 4-2 win for the Mets.

Murphy’s homer was his fourth this post-season, tying a Mets post-season record.

The two squads will face off in Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday at 8:00 PM EDT. Jake Arrieta will start for the Cubs against Noah Syndergaard of the Mets.

The Cubs played under protest after Joe Maddon disputed an ‘illegal’ pitching motion

Joe Maddon
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The Cubs found themselves in a disadvantageous position toward the end of their 5-2 loss to the Nationals on Saturday. Down by three in the ninth, they were finally looking to gain some ground against closer Sean Doolittle after wearying themselves against Stephen Strasburg for the first eight innings of the game. Instead, the game ended under protest when Cubs skipper Joe Maddon took umbrage with Doolittle’s delivery:

The issue appeared to stem from the motion Doolittle made with his left foot, a kind of “toe-tapping” gesture that Maddon believed had previously been made illegal. The official rules state that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate during his delivery, a stipulation that had previously been violated by Cubs’ pitcher Carl Edwards Jr.:

Comparing the two motions, however, one would be hard-pressed to characterize Doolittle’s tapping motion as a full step toward the plate. Maddon clearly didn’t see it that way, and emerged from the dugout to dispute the pitcher’s delivery twice. Following Doolittle’s first-pitch strike to Albert Almora, the manager informed home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook that the Cubs would play the remainder of the game under protest.

An official decision has not yet been announced regarding the illegality of the delivery and the validity of the Cubs’ protest. According to league rules, “the game will not be replayed unless it is also determined that the violation adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning.”

During the inning in question, however, the umpiring crew allowed Doolittle to continue his delivery. He helped secure the Nationals’ 5-2 win after inducing a groundout from Almora, striking out Kyle Schwarber, and getting a game-ending pop-out from Kris Bryant.

After the game, both Holbrook and Doolittle took issue with Maddon’s protest.

“In that moment, he’s not trying to do anything other than rattle me,” Doolittle told reporters. “And it was kind of tired. I don’t know, sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is and how much he pays attention to the game. So he put his stamp on it, for sure.”

Holbrook, meanwhile, said Doolittle did “absolutely nothing illegal at all.”