With the crack of Anthony Rizzo’s bat, there was no doubting what would happen next. No doubt the ball would land in the bleachers in right-center field to put the Chicago Cubs ahead. No doubt the Mets would strand base runners with the game still in reach. And no doubt that the crowd would sing “Go, Cubs, Go,” the team’s anthem.
The song is played only when the Cubs win, and after three straight losses here, the Mets can probably recite it by heart.
The Cubs, who took a one-run lead with Rizzo’s shot in the seventh, added two more runs in the eighth as they cruised to a 7-4 win Thursday and completed the sweep. Over the course of the series, the Mets stranded 31 runners and batted 4 for 30 with runners in scoring position.
The Mets arrived in Chicago feeling optimistic, having beaten Philadelphia four times in a five-game series. Now they were leaving humbled, heading next to play the vaunted San Francisco Giants.
Collins shook his head. The pressure was supposed to be on the pitcher in those situations, he said. He acknowledged he did not know exactly what was wrong.
On Thursday, Collins made a few moves trying desperately to ignite his offense. He stacked his lineup with right-handed batters against the Cubs’ left-handed starter, Travis Wood. He slotted the struggling Chris Young in the leadoff spot and started three role players: Eric Campbell, Wilmer Flores and Andrew Brown.
Young, over his last 21 games, had sunk to a new low, batting .121 with 12 strikeouts and, over the weekend, making a costly error. Collins hoped batting him leadoff, a spot where he had had success, would help him relax.
As for the three role players, Collins is hoping they can make themselves reliable bench players who can produce when called on. He mentioned Scott Hairston as an example. Brown, in particular, seemed primed for the role. After being sent down earlier this season, he had belted 13 home runs in 36 games with Class AAA Las Vegas.