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Not known for speed, Mets are running wild in playoffs

New York Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson (3)

New York Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson (3) steals third base in the third inning as Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) is late with the tag during Game 2 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

CHICAGO -- It started with Daniel Murphy's daring steal of third base on a walk in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers.

All postseason long, the Mets -- not a speedy team by any means -- have used heads-up baserunning to run their way through the first two rounds.

Going into Wednesday night's Game 4 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field, the Mets had stolen seven bases in the postseason and had been caught twice. Two of those steals were Murphy's in Los Angeles, which led to the tying run in the series-deciding game, and Yoenis Cespedes' steal of third in the sixth inning of Tuesday's Game 3 of the NLCS.

Cespedes went on to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch during a strikeout of Michael Conforto in the Mets' 5-2 victory.

"My thinking," Cespedes said through a translator, "was just I was confident I would make it, and with just one out I just felt like I knew I could put us ahead."

Said manager Terry Collins: "We came in knowing that we had to be a little aggressive on the bases, something we don't normally do. We're not that kind of a team. But we told the guys, 'Look, if you get on and you think you can go, go.' And Yoenis got a great jump, and it just shows you there is not a phase of this game that he can't do. And that was a big play for us."

The Mets quickly added to their total Wednesdlay night with steals by Curtis Granderson and Wilmer Flores in a four-run first inning.

The Mets thought going into the NLCS that they could be aggressive on the bases against the Cubs. They have, and it has paid off handsomely. Collins declined to reveal exactly what it was about the Cubs' defense that led the Mets to that conclusion.

"I don't hand out scouting reports [to the media]," Collins said before Game 4. "So we just knew that their -- we saw the numbers and teams steal bases against them -- so we thought we could give it a shot."

The Mets were next-to-last in the majors during the regular season with 51 stolen bases. The Cubs allowed 137 and threw out only 22 percent of would-be base stealers. But you can't always blame the catchers: Cespedes got a huge jump on his steal of third and made it easily.

"That was our fault," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We permitted him to do that. That was a very big play right there. In general, they just have played well. They've done little things well and they've taken advantage of us in different moments."

Murphy is usually more of a threat to run into an out than steal a base.

But in Game 5 of the NLDS, he moved to second on a walk to Lucas Duda in the fourth inning with the Mets trailing 2-1. The Dodgers had an infield shift on. When Murphy saw no one covering third base, he took it. He then scored the tying run on Travis d'Arnaud's sacrifice fly and the Mets went on to a 3-2 victory on Murphy's go-ahead homer in the sixth.


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