NEW YORK — Could back-to-back walk-off losses a month ago in St. Louis have been the difference for the Cubs in beating the Mets 7-1 in 14 innings Saturday night at Citi Field?
“You have to use positive or negative experiences as a way to learn, and it certainly took me a little while to put that perspective on it,” Cubs rookie Luke Farrell said after earning the victory with five innings of relief. “I think I implemented that as best I can.”
Farrell, the son of former Red Sox manager John Farrell who was claimed off waivers from the Reds in October, suffered both losses in St. Louis on game-ending home runs May 5 and 6. He was optioned back to Class AAA Iowa after that and didn’t return until being called up Monday in Pittsburgh.
“That was certainly the low point in my baseball career,” he said. “To have a little bounce-back like this is important.”
After outlasting Mets ace Jacob deGrom — who pitched a powerful seven innings — the Cubs eventually broke through in the 14th with two-run hits by Albert Almora Jr., Ben Zobrist and Javy Baez.
“You could smell that coming from the seventh or eighth inning,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the look of a long extra-inning game — after the Cubs squandered multiple scoring chances earlier in the game.
Farrell started the ninth inning for the Cubs and retired the first 11 he faced and 14 of 15 until a double and two walks loaded the bases in the 13th — before getting a grounder to end it.
“It’s not a typical five innings, anytime you can’t give up a run because the game’s going to end,” said Farrell, who was stretched out to 85 pitches as a starter in the minors. “It’s certainly more pressure situations than normal.”
Adding to the pressure was an at-bat he was compelled to take with runners at the corners and one out in the 13th because of a short bullpen and the need for him to stay in the game — to the apparent chagrin and irritation of fans on social media.
“Tell all the Twitter people there’s no options,” Maddon said. “There’s nobody else ready to pitch. I could only use [closer Brandon] Morrow if, in fact, we grabbed the lead. Otherwise it was Farrell.”
After two failed tries to bunt, Farrell struck out swinging, and Kris Bryant then struck out to end the Cubs’ threat.
Morrow pitched the 14th, the first time he has pitched three days in a row this season — something Maddon planned to avoid going into the day. Maddon said giving him Sunday off with Monday as a scheduled off day for the team made that move palatable.
“We fought too hard to not [use him],” he said. “It’s one of those things. It had to play that way. Morrow was the only guy that had a little bit in the tank, so we used him.”
Mike Montgomery, who joined the rotation only Monday after Yu Darvish went on the disabled list, turned in his second impressive outing, allowing one run, two hits and a walk in six innings — the only run scoring on Michael Conforto’s two-out home run in the sixth.