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Mets vs. Cardinals recap: De Aza, Lugo keep Mets in Wild Card race

Seth Lugo threw five scoreless innings, and Alejandro De Aza had a great night.

MLB: New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to an easy win last night in St. Louis, the Mets are very much in the National League Wild Card mix. And it was easy because Adam Wainwright continued to struggle, as he has for much of this season, and Alejandro De Aza had a great all-around game.

De Aza, who would have long ago been designated for assignment if most Mets fans were in charge of the roster, made a great catch against the center field wall to rob Matt Carpenter of a potential home run—and certainly at least an extra-base hit. And it was De Aza who turned the Mets’ 1-0 lead into a 3-0 lead with a two-run single in the fourth inning. And after an inning-extending error by the Cardinals allowed the Mets’ fourth run to score in the top of the fifth, De Aza hit a three-run home run, his second in the past week, to turn the game into a rout.

After a brutal start to his season, De Aza has turned things around nicely over the past couple of months. Since July 1, he’s hit .238/.366/.429 with four home runs in 101 plate appearances. At the end of June, he had a .447 OPS, and he now has a .615 OPS. He’d have to hit really well the rest of the way to make his 2016 line look good, but he’s been a useful player for the Mets for a little while now.

On top of all that, the Mets fared pretty well at the plate. James Loney, who made another incredibly awkward play at first base later in the game, had a good night against Wainwright and went 3-for-5 with three runs scored. Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Rene Rivera had two hits apiece, and even Curtis Granderson, who has continued to struggle lately and struck out three times, hit a double in the second inning that set up a the Flores sacrifice fly that plated the Mets’ first run of the game.

That the Mets only won 10-6 really understates how much they ran away with the game. After Seth Lugo left the game with a cramp in his right calf while he warmed up to pitch the sixth inning, Jim Henderson surrendered a two-run home run to Brandon Moss. The Mets tacked on a run in the eighth, but Josh Smoker gave up a home run to Moss to lead off the bottom of that inning and left a couple of runners on base for Addison Reed, in part because of the aforementioned misplay by James Loney as he failed to properly cover first on a ground ball to second base.

From there, Reed allowed one inherited runner to score on a fielder’s choice—which was a very nice play by Jose Reyes at third base that retired the runner at first base—but got through the rest of the inning without issue, as Reyes made another nice play at third to end the inning. And the Mets tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth on a long single from Rene Rivera before Sean Gilmartin gave up a couple of solo home runs in the bottom of the inning but still managed to finish the game.

With that and the results of last night’s other games, the Mets are 3.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot in the National League and 5.0 games back of the first one, which is held by the still-flailing Giants. They’re two games back of the Marlins and one game back of the Pirates, the two teams between them and the second spot. There’s still a lot of work to be done for the Mets to make that game, but right now, it doesn’t look impossible.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Seth Lugo, +21.2% WPA, Wilmer Flores, +13.7% WPA, Alejandro De Aza, +11.6% WPA, Curtis Granderson, +11.0% WPA
Big losers: none
Teh aw3s0mest play: Curtis Granderson doubles to put runners on second and third in the second, +11.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Yoenis Cespedes grounds into a double play in the first, -4.9% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +21.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: +28.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Alejandro De Aza