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Mets beat Cubs in extras to take Game 1 of doubleheader behind Taijuan Walker gem, J.D. Davis defense

CHICAGO — The Mets could not have taken Game 1 of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field without J.D. Davis, who can pick it.

In the bottom of the 10th inning of a tied game, Adam Ottavino had the pressure turned up when Frank Schwindel, the Cubs’ free runner at second, stole third. Ottavino, who was pitching a second straight inning, understood the assignment: a deep fly to the outfield would walk it off for the Cubs. With a killer instinct, he struck out his first two batters using nine pitches combined.

Then came the kicker. Cubs second baseman Christopher Morel sent a grounder to Eduardo Escobar, who made a diving stop to his left and fired to Davis at first base. Davis, in just his fourth time playing first base this season, made a sensational pick to get the out and end the inning.

The Mets scored the winning run in the top of the 11th on a Pete Alonso sacrifice fly to right field that brought in Luis Guillorme from third. That one run was all Edwin Diaz would need to save the game. The Mets closer struck out his first two batters and induced a groundout to end the game and hand the Amazin’s a 2-1 win over the Cubs in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Saturday.

Taijuan Walker recorded his seventh straight quality start on Saturday. He allowed one earned run on four hits in six innings against the Cubs. He struck out five batters and walked two across 95 pitches. Walker has been terrific over the past month, posting an identical 2022 first half as his 2021 All-Star first half.

Walker struts into the All-Star break with a 7-2 record and 2.55 ERA across 91.2 innings and 16 starts. Last year, Walker earned his first career All-Star nod after going 7-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 94.2 innings. He was snubbed out of this year’s All-Star Game, but he has unquestionably been the leader in the Mets rotation, particularly while Max Scherzer was sidelined for seven weeks, and one of the best starters in the league so far this season.

Marcus Stroman, in his first start facing his former team, held the Mets to one earned run on one hit across 4.1 innings and 83 pitches. Stroman was limited to a pitch count in his second start back from a shoulder injury, but the former Mets right-hander made the most of his outing. He struck out six batters and walked two, while working slowly and deliberately against the Amazin’s. The only hit Stroman gave up came off the bat of Pete Alonso in the form of a scorching RBI double to center field in the fourth inning.

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