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Mets lose series against Cardinals as starting pitching struggles continue

Another game, another mediocre performance from a starter.

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

The Mets came into Sunday hoping that they would be able to leave St. Louis with a series victory on the back of a strong pitching performance from Noah Syndergaard. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, as the team lost to the Cardinals 6-4 to fall to an 11-10 record on the season.

The game had some excitement almost right off the bat. There was a lot of chatter prior to the game about Pete Alonso asking Mickey Callaway to play him today in spite of having gotten hit in the hand yesterday, as he supposedly “hated” Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota Hudson and wanted the chance to face him. And following a Nimmo strikeout to lead off the game, Alonso immediately inflicted some pain upon his apparent nemesis, as he smacked a 444-foot bomb (his eighth of the season) to dead center at 114.7 MPH. That impressive shot gave the Mets an early 1-0 lead, though they could not add to it in spite of two other players getting on base in the inning – Cano on an error at the first base bag by Hudson and Rosario on a single up the middle.

Syndergaard then took the mound for the bottom of the first. While he did give up a single to Paul DeJong and had to throw 22 pitches, he managed to get three strikeouts to start out his day. The bottom of the Mets’ order went down quietly in the top of the second inning, and Syndergaard quickly got into trouble when he returned to the mound. The first two runners reached on a walk and a single, respectively, and following a strikeout Kolten Wong laced an opposite field RBI single with two strikes. Syndergaard’s struggles were made worse by an error from Rosario, as he was unable to handle a soft dribbler off the bat of Hudson. The bases were then loaded with one out, and following a fly ball out which was not deep enough to score the runner at third, Paul Goldschmidt managed to inflict some two-out damage with a single just past Rosario’s reach which scored two. Syndergaard then retired DeJong to get out of the inning, but his lead was gone and the Mets were down 3-1.

The offense threatened in the top of the third, as two walks and a single loaded the bases after a leadoff groundout by Nimmo. But the Mets were unable to capitalize on the opportunity, as Rosario hit a soft grounder back to the pitcher which resulted in an out at home, and McNeil flew out to right field to end the threat. The Cardinals responded by immediately pouncing on Syndergaard again in the bottom of the inning, as the first two hitters reached base on a walk and bloop single, respectively. Both runners would come around to score, the first on a ground ball fielder’s choice to third base and the second on a double to right field off the bat of Dexter Fowler. A nifty barehanded play by Syndergaard ended the inning, but the deficit had already been expanded to 5-1.

The top of the fourth looked to be a boring affair, as the first two batters at the bottom of the Mets’ order were retired quickly. There was a jolt of excitement, however, when Syndergaard hit a long fly ball to center field. Fowler seemed to have it tracked and jumped in the air to make the catch, but the ball bounced off his glove and went over the fence, making it Syndergaard’s fifth (and most bizarre) career homer. Unfortunately, the Cardinals immediately got the run back in the bottom of the inning after an infield single by Goldschmidt and a two-out double to left field by Marcell Ozuna.

The Mets provided another brief shot of optimism with another solo home run in the top of the fifth—this one a shot to left-center off the bat of Robinson Cano, cutting the deficit to 6-3—but the team was not able to get any other men on base during the inning. Syndergaard provided a quiet inning himself in the bottom of the fifth—his final inning of the day, and his first clean one—and the Mets had another opportunity to do some damage in the sixth. A hit-by-pitch and walk provided the Mets with an opportunity to get back into the game, with lefty reliever Andrew Miller on the mound to replace Hudson and lefty masher J.D. Davis pinch hitting for Nimmo with two outs. But Davis hit a weak pop-up to right field, thus ending the inning with no runs having scored.

Robert Gsellman came into the game in the bottom of the sixth to replace Syndergaard, and he threw a clean and uneventful inning. It was the first of three hitless innings that Gsellman provided for the Mets, which gave the team the opportunity to claw back. And the Mets would score one more run in the top of the seventh, but not before one more bizarre play. With one out in the seventh and an 0-1 count, Robinson Cano was hit on the right hand by a 93 MPH fastball. The veteran second baseman was in clear and immediate pain, and he ended up having to leave the game. However, Juan Lagares—who took Cano’s place in the game—was not awarded first base, as the umpires ruled that Cano had swung the bat on the HBP. Callaway was irate and made his feelings known, leading to his ejection. In any event, Lagares wound up striking out, an outcome which would prove meaningful given that the at-bat was immediately followed by yet another solo homer, a bomb to right center by Michael Conforto. Had Lagares been given first base, it would have been a two-run shot which brought the deficit down to just one run. As is, the score was 6-4, and a line drive out off the bat of Rosario ended the inning.

The final two and a half innings were largely uneventful. Gsellman allowed just one baserunner in his three innings—the result of Rosario’s second error of the game in the eighth inning—but the Mets were not able to do any damage of their own, as they first went down quietly in the eighth against former Met John Gant and were then limited to a two-out single off the bat of Alonso against Jordan Hicks in the ninth. With that, the Mets lost their second straight series, and will now try to turn things around against their divisional rivals from Philadelphia back in New York.

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Box scores


Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big winners: Robinson Cano, 13.1% WPA; Pete Alonso, 11.9% WPA
Big losers: Noah Syndergaard, -37.7% WPA; Jeff McNeil, -11.5% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -32.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: -17.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s first inning homer, +10.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Paul Goldschmidt’s game-tying single in the bottom of the second, -17.9% WPA