CHICAGO (Reuters) - The New York Mets completed a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series with an 8-3 rout on Wednesday that put them into the World Series for the first time since 2000.
Daniel Murphy added to his spectacular postseason by belting a home run for a Major League Baseball record sixth game in a row, while first baseman Lucas Duda came out of a slump to drive in five runs in the first two innings to lift the Mets.
Murphy, who hit four home runs and drove in six during the series, was named Most Valuable Player of the league championship.
Mets captain David Wright said he and his team mates were besides themselves with excitement about having a chance to win the team’s first MLB title in 29 years.
“When you grow up as a kid and you think about playing in the World Series, you’re in your backyard with your Whiffle Ball bat saying, ‘Game Seven, full count and bases loaded,’” Wright said, admiring his new World Series cap with a huge grin.
”And now we get to experience it! Are you kidding me? It just feels too good to be true.”
New York will play the winner of the American League Championship Series between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays in the best-of-seven World Series starting next Tuesday.
The loss meant the young, hard-hitting Cubs would have to wait at least one more season to carry the frustrated franchise back to the Fall Classic, which they last played 70 years ago.
Chicago swept all seven of the regular season contests between the teams, but the Mets had the last laugh and never trailed the Cubs during any game of the series.
“It’s not so much to be disappointed in our performance,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They were just that good for four games. They smothered us early.”
The Mets jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings, scoring four runs in the first inning off starter Jason Hammel and two more in the second with first baseman Duda supplying a three-run homer in the first and a two-run double in the second.
Murphy collected three hits before topping off his series with a flourish, belting a two-run homer in the eighth.
After three wins that featured young, dominant starting pitching by New York’s Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, the Mets completed the series sweep by committee.
Rookie starter Steven Matz held the Cubs without a hit through three innings but faced threats in the fourth and fifth.
The Cubs appeared to have Matz on the ropes in the fourth when they loaded the bases with none out.
Jorge Soler led off with a single for the Cubs’ first hit, Kris Bryant walked and Anthony Rizzo singled to fill the bases.
Starlin Castro then ripped a bullet line drive that looked headed for leftfield and some runs but third baseman Wright made a leaping catch.
Kyle Schwarber, who hit five post-season homers, bounced out to first and scored Soler, but Javier Baez hit a foul pop down the third base line that Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores caught on the run near the stands to end the threat.
Two more singles in the fifth led Mets manager Terry Collins to replace Matz with 42-year-old Bartolo Colon.
Colon, who registered the win, pitched out of the jam and was followed to the mound by Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and closer Jeurys Familia.
Clippard gave up a long two-run homer to Bryant in the eighth that made it 8-3, before Familia shut the door in the ninth to set off a Mets celebration in the middle of Wrigley Field.
Writing by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Peter Rutherford