Daniel Murphy powers Mets to take 2-0 NLCS lead over the Cubs

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An early rally by the offense, headlined by Daniel Murphy, and strong pitching by Noah Syndergaard into the sixth inning led to a 4-1 victory by the Mets over the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS at Citi Field on Sunday night. The Mets now hold a comfortable 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Cubs starter Jake Arrieta allowed three runs to the Mets in the bottom of the first inning before he was able to record an out. Curtis Granderson hit a line drive past the shift on the right side and David Wright promptly drove him in with a deep double to right-center. Murphy put an exclamation point on the inning when he snuck a line drive inside the foul pole down the right field line, staking the Mets to a 3-0 lead. The home run if Murphy’s fifth of this post-season, setting a Mets record. He’s gone yard in four consecutive playoff games, one shy of Carlos Beltran‘s record set with the Astros in 2004.

Granderson saved a run on Syndergaard’s behalf when he robbed Chris Coghlan of a home run in the second inning. Shortly thereafter, he manufactured a run with his legs in the third inning after leading off with a walk. David Wright struck out, but Granderson moved himself into scoring position by stealing second base. Cubs manager Joe Maddon opted to intentionally walk the red-hot Murphy. With Yoenis Cespedes batting, Granderson swiped third base. Cespedes followed up with a ground ball in the hole between third base and shortstop, reaching safely when Javier Baez was unable to make a play. Granderson scored easily to make it 4-0.

Arrieta lasted five innings, serving up four runs on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

Syndergaard was humming along until the sixth. Dexter Fowler singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch with one out, then came home on a well-struck two-out double to left field by Kris Bryant. That ended Syndergaard’s shutout and his night; lefty Jon Niese entered and struck out Anthony Rizzo to escape the frame. Syndergaard finished having allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Addison Reed worked a perfect seventh inning for the Mets. Tyler Clippard worked around a two-out Fowler single to finish the eighth. Closer Jeurys Familia, whose availability was in question until late Sunday afternoon, worked around a one-out infield single by Rizzo, getting Starlin Castro to ground out to shortstop and Coghlan tapped out on a grounder to first base.

The Mets and Cubs will have a day off on Monday with which to travel to Chicago. The NLCS resumes on Tuesday at 8:00 PM EDT with Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom starting against Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.