Sheesh. That Adam Wainwright is having one heck of a season, huh? He came into the game with 91 strikeouts, just seven walks, and a 2.34 ERA. After striking out six Mets today and walking one in a 2-1 Cardinals victory, Wainwright's strikeout-to-walk ratio has actually gotten worse, but unfortunately we cannot say the same for his ERA.
Matt Harvey pitched wonderfully, but the Mets could not manage anything against Wainwright. Harvey retired the first seven hitters he faced this afternoon, and got three of them via strikeout. The eighth Cardinals batter of the game, Pete Kozma, laced an opposite field single with one out in the third inning and moved over to second on a Wainwright sacrifice.
It all seemed so innocent until Harvey hung a curveball against Matt Carpenter, who ripped a line drive into the right-center field gap that evaded Marlon Byrd and rolled all the way to the wall. Kozma scored easily on the triple to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Wainwright was dealing with his patented curveball/cutter combination that only seems to yield a strikeout or a ground ball every time. He retired the first 11 Mets to step to the plate. David Wright finally ended the perfect game bid with a two-out single in the fourth inning, and he even moved over to second when Daniel Murphy drew Wainwright's only walk of the day (and only his eighth of the season!).
The next batter, Lucas Duda, nearly altered the game completely when he hit a fly ball deep to center field. Although the drive looked promising, there was just enough room in the yard for John Jay to catch the fly ball and end the inning. That would be the closest the Mets would come to scoring until the seventh inning.
In that frame, Marlon Byrd hit a one-out single to the opposite field and was moved to second on a John Buck ground out. With Matt Harvey on deck, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny made the controversial decision to walk Kirk Nieuwenhuis and thus put the go-ahead run on base. The flip side, of course, was that Terry Collins would have to remove Matt Harvey from the game in favor of a pinch hitter.
Matheny's gamble paid off in more ways than one. Pinch hitter Justin Turner could only ground out to third on a 2-0 offering from Wainwright, which ended New York's bid to score in the seventh. In the eighth, with Harvey no longer on the mound, the Cardinals used a trio of two-out singles by Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, and Allen Craig to push across an insurance run. Scott Rice got the first two outs in the inning and allowed the Beltran single, while the rest of the frame was pitched by LaTroy Hawkins.
As you can see from the final score, that insurance run would prove to be important. With one out in the ninth, Marlon Byrd hit a long home run off of Cardinals closer Edward Mujica. That brought Buck to the plate, and he hit a double down the right field line to give even more life to the Mets' comeback attempt.
With Collin Cowgill inserted as a pinch runner, Nieuwenhuis hit a hard ground ball to the right side that would have gone through for a hit if not for some nifty fielding by Carpenter. Instead of a game-tying hit, Nieuwenhuis had only made an out while moving the tying run to third base. The last hope for the Mets was AA hero Josh Satin, who gave Mujica a good battle before striking out on a splitter to end the game.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Matt Harvey +20.7%, John Buck +14.1%
Big losers: Lucas Duda -16.1%, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, -15.5% Josh Satin -15.1%
Teh aw3s0mest play: John Buck double in the ninth inning, +16.5%
Teh sux0rest play: Josh Satin strikes out swinging to end the game, -15.1%
Total pitcher WPA: +12.8%
Total batter WPA: -62.8%
GWRBI!: Allen Craig with a two-out RBI single off of LaTroy Hawkins in the eighth