If I can say anything about the Mets—anything that can appear on this site, anyway—I'll say that they're innovators. You'd think that when on the verge of their second six-game losing streak of the year, they'd repeat themselves while losing. And yet, they continue to find new and surprising ways to giftwrap games for the opposition. If Thomas Edison had abandoned inventing useful things and concentrated on innovating means of losing, he would have come up with the 2013 Mets.
The Mets managed to break up Shelby Miller's consecutive hitters retired streak in the top of the first when David Wright singled up the middle. Of course, that came after Miller fanned the first two batters of the game on fastballs on the outside corner, and after Wright's hit the pitcher retired Ike Davis in the same fashion. Pretty sure I could strike out Ike Davis on a ball in the dirt these days, and my fastball is timed with a sun dial.
Mets batters seemed to catch on to Miller beginning in the second inning, as they began to foul off a good number of pitches and work the rookie into some deep counts. While this did translate into an elevated pitch count for Miller, it didn't translate into any runs for the Mets.
This lack of results was exacerbated by their usual lack of fundies. In the top of the second, John Buck turned a 12-pitch at-bat into a one-out walk, and Rick Ankiel dunked a single between the second baseman and the center fielder. With their first scoring opportunity of the night set up nicely, Ruben Tejada hit a screaming line drive that Jon Jay picked off in center while Buck ran blissfully toward third, assuming it would fall in. When Buck did think to look behind him, he slipped and fell on the infield and was thus doubled up easily.
In the third, they chose a more conventional manner, bypassing a well-struck leadoff single by Shuan Marcum by going down in order thereafter. But in the fourth, they returned to crazy form when Buck was hit by a pitch with two out, then tried to steal second and was nailed by a considerable margin. I assume this was some sort of hit-and-run play gone wrong, but that wouldn't explain why a hit-and-run play was called with Ankiel at the plate, a hitter who usually avoids contact like he owes it money.
As for Mets pitcher Shaun Marcum, he turned in his best start by far this season. A low bar, to be sure, but true nonetheless. Marcum set the Cards down in order in the bottom of the first, then did the same in the second while adding a strikeout to his ledger. He allowed a leadoff single to Daniel Descalso to start the third, but set down the next three, including a K of Matt Carpenter to close out the frame.
But trouble found Marcum in the bottom of the fourth, some of it not his own doing. Matt Holliday bounced a one-out single past David Wright, and Jon Jay belted a two-out double into the right-center gap that allowed Holliday to score all the way from first. Jay, assuming the relay throw would go home, tried to stretch his hit into a triple, but Daniel Murphy threw to third instead. The runner pretty much gave himself up, stopping dead in his tracks, but for some reason Wright ran past Jay at a sprinter's clip trying to tag him out. The impact knocked the ball out Wright's glove, and Jay scurried to third safely. Tony Cruz knocked him in shortly thereafter. Though Wright's error meant the second run was unearned, it made the score 2-0 St. Louis nonetheless.
Following this strangeness, the Mets declined to make Miller work as hard as they had in the initial frames, exiting quickly and quietly in the top of the fifth. In the sixth, Murphy managed a one-out double and even stole third, attempting to make things slightly easier for this teammates. However, with Wright up next in a position to redeem himself for his error, he struck out on Miller's last pitch of the evening instead. With Miller's pitch count near 100, the Cards opted to bring in the lefty Randy Choate to face Ike Davis. The first baseman decided to not prolong everyone's agony and swung at the first pitch to ground out and end the quote-unquote threat.
In the top of the seventh, Choate stayed on to retire Lucas Duda, then gave way to righty Seth Maness. Buck reached him for a single, but Maness stayed in to face the left handed Ankiel, who stunned me by actually working a full count. The former Cardinal then stunned everyone in attendance by crushing one deep into the centerfield stands, tying the game. Almost makes me rethink my contact crack above. Almost.
After the weird, damaging fourth inning, Marcum returned to unlikely form by setting the Cards down 1-2-3 in the fifth and sixth. He retired the first two batters in the seventh as well, but then issued a walk to Descalso, followed by a bloop single to Pete Kozma. That put runners at the corners and ended Marcum's night, as he exited with an easily lip-readable expletive on his way to the dugout. Presumably, he—like every Mets fan on the planet—foresaw how this one would now play out.
For those of you not gifted with Mets Fan Doom-Oriented ESP, what happened was this: Scott Rice came into the game because he always does, this time to face pinch hitter Matt Adams. Once Rice entered, however, the Cards sent up ex-Met/current Met killer Ty Wigginton to bat in Adams' place. But it would be Rice's arm rather than Wigginton's bat that would do the damage, as Rice uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Descalso to score the go-ahead run.
Trailing anew, the Mets did nothing against Trevor Rosenthal in the top of the eighth. LaTroy Hawkins took over pitching duties in the bottom half and turned in a prolonged, painful performance, with some help from his defense. A leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran was followed by a ground ball from Holliday that should have gone for a double play, but Murphy slung his relay to first into the dugout. One walk and one strikeout later, pinch hitter Yadier Molina drove in Holliday with a single, extending the Cards' lead to 4-2.
Cardinals closer Edward Mujica retired the Mets in order with little trouble in the ninth, sealing their sixth consecutive defeat. Mujica celebrated his feat with a demonstrative postgame celebration that seemed a tad excessive given the circumstances (game in May, terrible opponent). If I know Terry Collins, this act will certainly result in some severe retribution for Jordany Valdespin.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Rick Ankiel, +28.0%, Shaun Marcum, 5.0% (as a hitter; jeez)
Big losers: Scott Rice, -16.7%, Ruben Tejada, -13.7%
Teh aw3s0mest play: two-run Rick Ankiel homer, top seventh, +28.1%
Teh sux0rest play: wild pitch scoring go-ahead run, bottom seventh, -19.7%
Total pitcher WPA: -22.1%
Total batter WPA: -27.9%
GWRBI!: none (scored on wild pitch)