Bartolo Colon was magnificent Tuesday night as the New York Mets avoided a doubleheader sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals, winning the nightcap 3-1. Colon allowed one run off just three hits and no walks through seven innings, striking out eight in the process. Three scrappy runs from the Mets’ offense proved to be enough to salvage a split for the day and remain firmly in the National League playoff picture.
Colon and the Mets fell to a 1-0 deficit early when Jedd Gyorko connected for his second home run of the doubleheader in the second inning. It was the only blemish on an otherwise dominant outing from the 43-year-old right hander.
When Terry Collins released his lineup for the second game, many were surprised and confused to see Alejandro De Aza in right field and batting eighth against a left-handed pitcher, especially with both Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto on the bench. De Aza quieted the critics in his first at-bat, leading off the home half of the third inning with a double. Later in the inning, with two outs and De Aza at third base, Asdrubal Cabrera put an end to a miserable 0 for 32 streak with runners in scoring position, driving a Jaime Garcia changeup over the head of Matt Holliday in left field and tying the game.
The Mets took the lead in unspectacular fashion in the following inning. After another leadoff double—this one off the bat of Wilmer Flores, who had three hits on the night—Neil Walker reached on an error as Cardinals right fielder Randall Grichuck failed to catch a slow line drive hit his way. With runners at the corners and nobody out, James Loney grounded into a double play, plating Flores.
Asdrubal Cabrera added a second RBI for the Mets’ third run in the fifth. After being hit by a pitch and advancing on a Colon sacrifice and a Juan Lagares infield single awarded after a Mets challenge, Alejandro De Aza scored again on a Cabrera sacrifice fly.
Addison Reed relieved Colon for the eighth inning and, as he’s done so often for the Mets this season, seamlessly supplied the bridge to Jeurys Familia for the ninth. A refreshingly unexciting final frame from Familia sealed the win for the Mets, who now find themselves 4.5 games behind the Nationals and 0.5 games behind the Marlins in the NL East. They retain a half-game lead over the Cardinals in the National League wildcard standings.
With the afternoon defeat and evening win, the Mets extend an alternating win/loss trend to 12 games since returning from the All-Star break.
In what ends up being just a footnote from Tuesday nights’ game, the Mets used their special extra roster spot for the second game to call up 27-year-old pitcher and former first round pick Josh Smoker, who suited up for the first time as a Major League player, despite not being involved in the game.
Smoker will likely be headed back to AAA Las Vegas as the Mets hand the ball to Logan Verrett for Wednesday’s series finale. The Cardinals will call on veteran ace Adam Wainwright, who is 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts this month.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Winners: Bartolo Colon (24.8% WPA), Asdrubal Cabrera (13.9% WPA), Wilmer Flores (12.5% WPA), Alejandro De Aza (12.5%WPA)
Big Losers: James Loney (WPA -11.7%)
Teh aw3s0mest play: Asdrubal Cabrera breaks RISP drought with double (13.5% WPA)
Teh sux0rest play: Jedd Gyorko homers in the 2nd (-11.9% WPA)
Total pitcher WPA: 37%
Total batter WPA: 13%