The Mets plated 14 runs against the Cubs on Sunday, but arguably the most important one scored when Curtis Granderson rounded the bases in the bottom of the first.
Chicago had come out of the gate strong, scoring a run on two hits against Noah Syndergaard. Trailing 3-0 in the series, the Cubs needed a hot start to have a chance of stealing the final game.
But Granderson wasn’t ready for that to happen.
In his return from a three-game absence, Granderson took Cubs starter Jon Lester deep to left-centerfield with one out in the first, tying the game at 1-1 and setting the stage for a 14-3 Mets rout.
“I think it was the biggest hit we had,” said manager Terry Collins. “They go out, Noah’s throwing good, and they jump on him in the first inning. Curtis walks up there and answers it right away off Jon Lester.”
Granderson, who last started five games ago, recorded hits in pinch-hit appearances during the final two games of the Nationals series. But he sat in the first three games against the Cubs, leaving a hole near the top of the lineup.
Hitting second on Sunday, Granderson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk before being pulled after the sixth.
His RBI single in the second was part of a seven-run outburst that gave Syndergaard an 8-1 cushion. Wilmer Flores (two), Rene Rivera and Kelly Johnson added home runs of their own, giving the Mets five home runs in a game for the second time in three days.
“You go out there and just try to get pitches that you can hit and you can handle,” Granderson said. “It’s just a matter of getting them and being able to put good swings on them.”
Lester was tagged for eight runs on nine hits in 1 1⁄3 innings, the shortest outing of his 11-year career. His ERA jumped from 2.06 at first pitch to 2.67 on his 56th offering, which resulted in an RBI single from Wilmer Flores that chased him from the game.
You can thank Granderson for getting the job started, if you ask Collins.
“I think that really got everything going,” Collins said. “There are a lot of things that are contagious in our game. Hitting’s one of them.”
The Mets were already hot at the plate before the 22-hit barrage on Sunday. They hit 12 home runs in the four-game sweep of the Cubs and have hit 109 homers in 81 games.
With Granderson back to helping set the table, perhaps more Mets will catch the home-run-happy bug that seems to be going around the clubhouse.