If the Mets' bullpen is aiming to troll the Atlanta Braves, they are doing a fantastic job. For the second straight night, the Mets came from behind to take a slim lead over the Cardinals before bringing in the bullpen and losing.
Jaime Garcia set the Mets down in order in the top of the first, and the Cardinals wasted little time scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. It all began with two outs and nobody on base and Albert Pujols at the plate. Pujols hit a long fly ball to right-center field, and Lucas Duda made an awkward attempt to catch the ball, hitting the wall back-first. The ball bounced off the wall, resulting in a double for Pujols, and the play forced Duda from the game a couple innings later with dizziness.
Chris Schwinden intentionally walked Lance Berkman and threw a wild pitch which advanced the runners to second and third. David Freese tripled to score them both with ease, and the Cardinals had an early two-run lead.
The Mets were retired quickly again in the second inning, and if not for an inning-ending diving catch by Willie Harris, St. Louis could have turned the game into a laugher in the bottom of the frame. Schwinden allowed a single and a double, got a harmless ground out off the bat of Garcia, and served up a single to Allen Craig to bring home a run. He hit Rafael Furcal with a pitch to load the bases for Pujols.
Cardinals fans must have thought the game was in the bag, but Pujols popped up, and Lance Berkman hit a ball into the gap which looked like it would score three runs. Fortunately for the Mets, Willie Harris made his aforementioned diving catch to put an end to the Cardinals' serious scoring threat. Unless I'm forgetting an earlier instance, this was the first time Harris made the type of catch he used to make against the Mets while playing for the team.
Despite starting the third inning with a pair of strikeouts by Ronny Paulino and Justin Turner, the Mets scored four runs in the inning to take the lead. A two-out single by Schwinden preceded a Jose Reyes double, and the inning should have ended on a ball hit to short by Angel Pagan, but Rafael Furcal botched it, allowing both runners to score. David Wright singled, and Josh Satin, filling in for the dizzy Duda, doubled to bring home the third and fourth runs of the game for the Mets, putting them up by one.
The score stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh, which just so happened to coincide with the Mets turning the game over to their bullpen. Keeping with the theme of the evening, the Cardinals made a couple of outs to start the seventh and then got started with the run-scoring. Pujols singled off Miguel Batista, Berkman singled off Daniel Herrera, and David Freese hit a three-run home run off Pedro Beato to reclaim the lead for the Cardinals. If Beato isn't pitching in Buffalo to begin 2012, I'll be very surprised.
Garcia stayed on for two outs in the eighth inning, but Jason Motte was called upon for the four-out save and began his appearance by getting the out to end the eighth. Bobby Parnell, for what it's worth, threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth inning. Motte retired the first two Mets in the ninth inning but yielded a solo home run to Willie Harris - yes, really - that cut the Cardinals' lead to one. But Motte struck out pinch-hitter Josh Thole to end the game. With a Braves loss, the Cardinals moved to 1.5 games back in the wild card race.
With a 1-for-4 night, Jose Reyes' batting average is very, very slightly ahead of Ryan Braun, who went 0-for-4 as Matt Garza threw a ten-strikeout complete game against the Brewers this afternoon, in the race for the batting title.
The Mets play their final road game of the season in tomorrow at 1:45 pm EDT. Chris Capuano takes the hill for the Mets, and Jake Westbrook does so for the Cardinals.
Big winners: Josh Satin, +21.7% WPA
Big losers: Pedro Beato, -54.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Josh Satin two-run double in the third, +23.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: David Freese three-run bomb in the seventh, -54.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -45.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: -4.3% WPA
GWRBI!: David Freese
Nice job by MetsFan4Decades; her effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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