How many ways was the New York Mets’ win unlikely? Let us count

Jul 20, 2016

Sometimes baseball makes little sense.

Case in point, the New York Mets’ 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. There were so many reasons why the Cubs should have won that game and the Mets should have lost it. But the result went the other way.

Begin at the end

For the second time in three weeks, the Cubs loaded the bases against Jeurys Familia when trailing by a run and Familia wriggled out of the jam to end the game. The Cubs are hitting .308 in bases-loaded situations, seventh-best in the majors.

On June 30, Familia struck out Willson Contreras and got Javier Baez to pop out after he struck out Kris Bryant with runners on second and third.

This time, he got Matt Szczur to ground into a force at home and then Bryant to hit into his second double play in 79 potential double-play situations (man on first, less than two outs).

That was the sixth time the Cubs have had the bases loaded and no outs in a game this season. They scored each of the previous five times.

Bryant was 8-for-17 with two sacrifice flies when batting with a man on third and less than two outs this season before that at-bat versus Familia.

The Mets closer extended his stretch of consecutive saves converted to 49, tied with John Axford for the fourth-longest streak since the save rule was enacted in 1969.

Familia has regularly made it an adventurous path this season. Of his 33 saves, this was the sixth time that it was a one-run game in which he got the final out with multiple men on base. Last season he had two such saves out of the 43 he successfully closed out.

In fact, over the past three seasons, opponents have one hit and one walk in 18 plate appearances in situations in which there were multiple men on base and their team was trailing Familia’s Mets by one. The one hit was Javier Baez’s bunt single on Tuesday.

Rizzo’s golden sombrero

The Cubs’ No. 3 hitter, Anthony Rizzo, did something he’d never done before, striking out four times in a game. Rizzo is in a little slump. He’s 3-for-20 in his past four games, though he did hit a three-run homer against the Mets on Monday.

Missed opportunities

Those outs the Cubs made were part of a game-long trend of failing to take advantage of missed opportunities. They went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position against Noah Syndergaard, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles and Familia.

The Cubs are 1-5 against the Mets this season. In all five losses, they’ve failed to score more than three runs. The Cubs are averaging 5.1 runs per game this season, third-most in the majors.

The Mets’ unlikely hero

Catcher Rene Rivera got the winning two-out hit for the Mets in the ninth inning. Rivera entered the day with a .190 batting average, but tied a career-high with three hits.

Rivera was starting because he has been highly effective behind the plate with Syndergaard this season. Syndergaard has a 2.25 ERA in 11 games with Rivera catching him, and a 3.57 ERA in four games with d’Arnaud catching him.

The Mets entered the day hitting .164 with runners in scoring position and two outs, which according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau was the worst in the major leagues.

The Mets’ other run came when Bryant failed to cut off Jose Reyes’ hit down the line, allowing him to get his 100th triple for the Mets, rather than a double. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Curtis Granderson. Bryant had not been credited with a defensive misplay in 84 innings in right field entering the day, per Baseball Info Solutions’ video review.

Ken Woolums and John Fisher also contributed to this article.

An earlier version of this article referenced Reyes hitting his 100th career triple. It was his 100th triple for the Mets.

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