Eleven years after the fateful 2006 NLCS, the combination of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina is still enough to give any Mets fan pause. However, while those two continued to do damage against the Mets, it was a rookie that emerged in this game and doomed the Mets to another loss.
The Cardinals sent former All-Star shortstop Aledmys Diaz down to the minors to make room for rookie Paul DeJong, and since his arrival he has not disappointed. After taking Jacob deGrom deep in the previous game, DeJong put the Cardinals on the board first in the third inning when he tagged Zack Wheeler for a solo shot. That was the first of four extra-base hits the rookie shortstop would collect against Mets pitching in this game.
The Cardinals put together rallies in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings and DeJong was involved in two out of the three. He scored in the seventh after leading off with a double, and in the eighth he drove in a run with another double. He finished his day going 4-for-4. He scored twice and drove in two.
Adam Wainwright was on the mound for St. Louis and again the Mets’ bats could not touch him. He made quick work of the offense and met very little resistance. He needed just six pitches to get through the fourth inning, and in the sixth he struck out the side. Heading into the seventh he had given up just two hits when Jay Bruce finally got to him and hit a home run to give the Mets their only run.
Wainwright left in the seventh with a final line of 6.2 innings, seven strikeouts, zero walks, and just the one run against him.
You can’t think of Wainwright without also thinking of Carlos Beltran, and of course Beltran was later traded for Zack Wheeler, who got the start for the Mets. Wheeler was in desperate need of a good start and he did put forth a solid effort. The Cardinals hit him hard, but Travis d’Arnaud threw out three runners on the basepaths, which helped limit the damage. The one runner d’Arnaud did not throw out ended up scoring in the sixth when Yadier Molina doubled to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead. That was all Wheeler would allow in six innings of work. He struck out five and walked one.
The bullpen again was an issue for the Mets. Terry Collins used five relievers in two innings and only two of the five did not walk anybody. Erik Goeddel got a big out in the seventh after Fernando Salas was erratic, and Neil Ramirez struck out the only batter he faced. Josh Edgin walked the only batter he faced and both Rafael Montero and Salas gave up runs.
The Mets did get the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but unfortunately it was in the form of Jose Reyes. On a day a young shortstop put on an offensive show against the Mets, it was the Mets’ once-exciting, now-fading shortstop who popped up on the first pitch he saw to end the game. The loss leaves the Mets’ playoff hopes teetering on the edge as the All-Star break approaches.
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Win Probability Added
Big winners: None
Big losers: Travis d’Arnaud -15.5%, Lucas Duda -15.4%, Fernando Salas -10.6%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jay Bruce home run in seventh
Teh sux0rest play: Paul DeJong home run in third
Total pitcher WPA: -6.4%
Total batter WPA: -43.6%
GWRBI!: Paul DeJong