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Cubs face true test against hot-hitting Mets

Having Thursday off didn’t cool down the New York Mets.

Now the Chicago Cubs have fewer than 24 hours to figure out how to corral the hottest team in the majors.

The Mets will look to continue their surge on Saturday afternoon, when they visit the Cubs in the middle game of the three-game series.

Tylor Megill (2-3, 3.52 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against fellow right-hander Jameson Taillon (3-3, 3.08 ERA).

J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer in the first inning Friday afternoon to power another big offensive outburst by the Mets, who rolled to an 11-1 win.

Francisco Alvarez and Brandon Nimmo also homered for the Mets, whose 14-5 record since May 30 is the best in the majors. New York has outscored the opposition 121-81 over the past 19 games, a span in which it has at least scored 10 runs in a game five times.

The Mets were 22-33, the fifth-worst record in the majors, through May 29. They scored at least 10 runs in a game just once in that season-opening stretch.

The Mets have been especially hot over the past five games, during which they’ve outscored the opposition 46-20. It’s the most prolific five-game stretch for New York since it scored 49 runs from Sept. 6-11, 2020.

“One through nine, everybody’s clicking,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “We can do damage. We get guys on, we’re getting big hits. Our approach with runners on base continues to get better.”

Few teams have a better idea of just how much the Mets have improved than the Cubs, who split a four-game series with New York at Citi Field from April 29 through May 2. Chicago limited the hosts to just one run combined in its two wins in the series, which ended with the Mets rallying for a 7-6 win in 11 innings.

Cubs left-hander Shota Imanaga’s Rookie of the Year candidacy took a hit Friday, when he fell behind 3-0 before recording an out and eventually surrendered 10 runs in three-plus innings. His ERA soared from 1.89 to 2.96. The Cubs opened the season 19-12 but are 17-28 since May 2 — the worst record in the NL in that span.

“He made some mistakes, and they jumped on them,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said of Imanaga. “You just kind of chalk it up to a bad day and go get them next time.”

Megill earned the win in his most recent appearance, when he allowed two runs over five innings on Sunday as the Mets beat the San Diego Padres 11-6. Megill took the loss in his lone appearance against the Cubs on May 23, 2023, when he gave up six runs (four earned) over 3 2/3 innings in Chicago’s 7-2 victory.

Taillon also pitched on Sunday, taking the loss after surrendering two runs over six innings in the Cubs’ 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He is 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in five career starts against the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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