“That’s baseball — sometimes they’re easy, sometimes they’re not, but they’re always entertaining,” Blevins said following a never-easy but nonetheless stirring 9-4 comeback win by the Mets over the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field.
The Mets fell behind 2-0 two pitches into the game, lost second baseman Neil Walker to a left leg injury in the third inning and watched starting pitcher Matt Harvey toss 87 mph fastballs until he departed after four innings due to a fatigued arm.
But the Mets’ comeback began in the fourth, when pitcher Steven Matz, pinch-hitting for Harvey with the bases loaded and one out, keyed a two-run rally by beating out a run-scoring infield single to quiet the thousands of Cubs fans seated among the crowd of 34,566.
“The big thing to take away from that, even though we were down 4-1, the sense was that we were down a lot more than that with all the Cubs fans here cheering as loud as they were,” Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said. “(It) continued to keep guys realizing this thing is far from over, we’ve got a lot of opportunities left.”
Matz, who is batting .185 with eight RBIs in 54 major league at-bats, had to pinch-hit because the Mets’ best right-handed bench bat, Yoenis Cespedes, is battling a heel injury and needs an extended warm-up period before he’s ready to pinch-hit.
“We got the guys on and I turned around, I looked at (bench coach) Dicky Scott, I said, ‘Please tell me Cespedes is ready to hit,'” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “And he wasn’t. So we just said, well, we’ll go with Steven Matz. And he saved the manager tonight, I can tell you.”
Center fielder Juan Lagares, pressed into duty with Cespedes and Michael Conforto (back) sidelined by injuries, laced a game-tying RBI triple in the sixth. Granderson, who appeared to be headed for fourth outfielder duties before Cespedes and Conforto got hurt, snapped the tie by hitting his 300th career homer leading off the eighth.
The Mets piled on later in the inning thanks to a three-run homer by Lucas Duda, who began the game on the bench but entered when Walker got hurt, and an RBI single by T.J. Rivera, who finished with three hits in just his third start since May 21.
Paul Sewald, Fernando Salas and Blevins combined to limit the Cubs to two hits in four innings, with Blevins (4-0) striking out three over 1 1/3 perfect frames. Addison Reed wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam during a non-save situation in the ninth as the Mets (30-34) won for the sixth time in the last eight games.
“This was a good one,” Blevins said. “This was a fun one to watch as a fan, too.”
It may have been a costly one as well for the Mets, who overcame numerous injuries to key players to reach the World Series in 2015 and the National League wild-card game last season.
Walker was injured trying to beat out a bunt in the third and collapsed in pain in foul territory before touching first base. He was able to walk off the field under his own power but is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Thursday.
Harvey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013 and surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome last July, is also scheduled to see doctors on Thursday. He said he last threw fastballs in the 87 mph range during his freshman year of high school.
“Just pretty tired,” said Harvey who gave up the four runs on four hits and one walk while striking out five. “My arm was just not working at all.”
Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ opened the game with homers for the Cubs (33-34) while Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run blast in the fourth. It was the second straight leadoff homer for Rizzo, who never batted leadoff before Tuesday, when he went 3-for-5 in a 14-3 win.
“Their bullpen pitched well,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We got off good again and we definitely had control of that game and gave it up.”
Jon Jay had three hits for the defending World Series champion Cubs, who have lost six of eight.
“There’s a certain unpredictability about us,” Maddon said, “That’s what happens when you’re .500 — you don’t play that same good game every day.”
Carl Edwards Jr. (2-1) took the loss for the Cubs after giving up three runs in an inning-plus. Starter Mike Montgomery allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk while striking out four over five innings.
NOTES: The Mets recalled RHP Rafael Montero from Triple-A Las Vegas and placed LHP Josh Smoker (left shoulder strain) on the 10-day disabled list. … Mets OF Michael Conforto (back) missed his third straight game. … Cubs OF Ben Zobrist (wrist) missed his second straight game and could be placed on the disabled list if he’s not feeling better Friday. … Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (right hand tendinitis) underwent an MRI Wednesday.