In tonight's game, one pitcher permitted hits all night but his opposition could not take advantage, while the other pitcher turned in a stellar performance yet made a few mistakes that led to a hard luck loss. And in a Shyamalan-ian twist, the team that endured the hard luck loss was not the Mets. have I blown your mind yet?!
Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller has put up Matt Harvey-esque numbers so far this year in every category except wins, since he plays for a team that can actually score runs. The Mets did virtually nothing against Miller when facing him in St. Louis back in May, and he dispatched the first Met batters of the evening with ease. But David Wright reached Miller for a long double in the right-center gap, then Daniel Murphy snuck a hit past the shortstop to plate a run. Lucas Duda joined the party by dunking a single down the right field line, which old friend Carlos Beltran fielded and threw back to the infield rather leisurely. Murphy, running on the pitch, took advantage of Beltran's inattentiveness and ran all the way home, putting the Mets up 2-0.
Miller returned to form shortly thereafter, retiring the Mets in order in the second and third. His night would proceed in this fashion: Brilliance punctuated by brief blips of vulnerability on which the Mets capitalized. Yes, those Mets. Like in the fourth, when Duda belted a long solo shot into the bullpen to extend the Mets' lead to 3-0. I realize "Duda solo shot" may be redundant, since all but 1 of his homers this year have come with no runners on base. Miller shook this off quickly, though, as he zipped through the rest of that inning and threw another perfect frame in the fifth, looking nigh-unhittable as he did so.
Dillon Gee allowed his fair share of baserunners tonight, as you might imagine if you knew he was facing the Cardinals' potent lineup and also remembered that he is Dillon Gee. However, he did an admirable job of stranding those baserunners against the team with the best record in baseball. In the first, Gee worked around a leadoff walk to keep the Cards scoreless. He ceded a double to the infamous Yadier Molina to start the second, followed by a one-out single to put runners on the corners, but a pop up and strikeout placed another zero on the board. In the third, a one-out Beltran single went for nought.
Gee even managed to put up zeroes when he was literally being attacked. Molina struck again in the fourth with a leadoff single that caromed off of Gee's left arm, but the pitcher showed no ill effects as he retired the next three batters in order. He finally threw a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fifth, despite taking another shot off of his non-throwing arm, this time off the bat of Beltran.
Gee's kryptonite this season has been the sixth inning, however. With the exception of his improbable performance against the Yankees (hey, remember that awesome series?), Gee hasn't escaped a sixth inning unscathed, and this didn't change tonight. Allen Craig took Gee deep for a one-out solo shot, and Molina followed with a double into a left field corner. It appeared only a matter of time before the Cards notched 17 runs. In my own nightmare scenario, all of these runs were unearned thanks to five Mets errors and a catcher's interference call. But Gee, far less of a pessimist than me, stopped the bleeding there by fanning David Freese and Jon Jay.
In the bottom of the sixth, Miller continued to pitch brilliantly, striking out Omar Quintanilla to open things, his 10th K of the night. But the next batter, Wright, crushed one to straightaway center, pushing the Mets' lead back to three whole runs. The next two batters were retired easily in what would prove to be Miller's last inning of work. Somehow, the Mets had hung four earned runs on his ledger, the highest total Miller's allowed in any start of his young career.
Gee nearly worked his way through the top of the seventh (an inning that has not posed problems for him since he so rarely reaches it), but issued a two-out walk to Matt Carpenter. With his pitch count well over 100, that brought his evening to a close and brought the X Factor of the Mets bullpen into things. (Or the Ick Factor, if you prefer.) Scott Rice made his court-mandated daily appearance and induced an inning-ending grounder from Beltran.
Seth Maness took Miller's place in the bottom of the seventh. Marlon Byrd had looked awful against Miller in his previous at bats, but wasted no time in taking Maness deep to lead off the inning. Amazingly, it was the Mets' third homer of the game (not a typo) in a game played at CitiField (again, not a typo).
The rest of the game proceeded free of drama or agita. Brandon Lyon set down the Cards in order in the top of the eighth. St. Louis closer Edward Mujica came on in the bottom half and saw Wright reach on a Freese error at third, then move to second on the most subtle balk ever (which Bob Davidson did not call, somehow), but permitted nought else. So no insurance runs were plated, but none were needed, as Bobby Parnell retired St. Louis 1-2-3 to complete an actual Mets victory by the score of 5-1.
Tomorrow brings a rare Harvey Day that occurs during the actual daytime, and the youngster will face Cards ace Adam Wainwright, weather permitting. There's a good chance that it may rain Thursday afternoon, although I doubt that clouds would dare interfere with the sacred rites of Harvey Day. Woe betide to those who do not keep it holy.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Dillon Gee, +23.6%, Lucas Duda, +17.4%
Big losers: Jordany Valdespin, -4.0%, Omar Quintanilla, -3.6%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda RBI single, bottom first, +10.0%
Teh sux0rest play: Allen Craig home run, top sixth, -10.0%
Total pitcher WPA: +28.5%
Total batter WPA: +21.5%
GWRBI!: Lucas Duda RBI single, bottom first