Coming off of one of the most deflating days of the season where the team lost not one, but two games in heartbreaking fashion after blowing late leads, the Mets looked to show some character and bounce back by getting one of those wins back against the Cardinals last night.
It started out about as well as anyone could have hoped. Noah Syndergaard allowed a home run to Dexter Fowler in the first inning, but the Mets offense stormed out of the gates and put a hurting on Cardinals starter Michael Wacha in the first inning. The first two men reached base, setting the stage for Pete Alonso later in the inning. The rookie sensation blasted his 23rd homer of the year—a three-run bomb— off the facing of the upper deck in left field. At 458 feet, it was his longest home run of the season.
The offense wasn’t done there, though. A Todd Frazier single, a Wilson Ramos RBI double, a fielding error by Kolen Wong, and a Carlos Gomez sac fly netted the Mets two more runs in the frame. They scored five runs in the first inning and led 5-1 at that point.
In the second inning, J.D. Davis added another run with his 8th homer of the year to lengthen the lead a little further to 6-1. Syndergaard settled down after the first, but allowed the Cardinals to chip away at the lead a little bit with a run in the third inning and another run in the fifth to cut it to 6-3. The Mets got both of those runs back in the sixth inning, though, to extend the deficit back out to five runs at 8-3.
Syndergaard came out for the seventh inning with his pitch count nearing 100, working on a quality start. He allowed a hit to the first batter of the inning, and two pitches into his second batter, grabbed his hamstring and was promptly met on the mound by Mickey Callaway and the training staff. Syndergaard was removed from the game immediately. The Mets say Syndergaard has a hamstring strain. He will probably end up on the injured list.
Thus, Callaway was forced to go to his unsteady and unreliable bullpen even earlier than he wanted to, with nobody out and one runner on in the seventh inning. He went to Robert Gsellman, who has particularly been a disaster lately. Gsellman allowed a walk, a double, a single, and a sac fly to the first four batters he faced. With that, the Cardinals had already cut the lead to 8-6, and had a runner at first and Marcell Ozuna at the plate. Ozuna laced a line drive to third, but Todd Frazier snared it and quickly fired it over to first to double off the runner, and mercifully ending the inning with the lead in tact.
Seth Lugo came on the in the eighth, and didn’t look like his usual self. Lugo has been the only reliable Mets reliever all season, but not even he could have a stress-free inning on this evening. He allowed a base hit and two walks to load the bases, though he had also struck out two batters intermittently in the frame. Protecting the two run lead with the bases loaded and two outs, Lugo struck out Matt Carpenter swinging to escape the jam. Lugo did not allow a run and wound up striking out the side.
The same could not be said of Edwin Diaz. He took the mound in the ninth for the save, and his outing started innocuously enough, getting a ground out and a strikeout sandwiched around a Paul DeJong single. With two outs, DeJong moved up to second on defensive indifference, and Yadier Molina drove him in to cut it to 8-7, bringing the lead run to the plate in Kolten Wong with two outs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals pinch-ran Molina with pitcher Jack Flaherty, who started for the Cardinals on Friday night, to carry the tying run because they were out of bench players.
On 1-1, Wong lofted a bloop into shallow right field. Jeff McNeil sprinted out from second base and Michael Conforto angled in from right. Both men slid for it, but it fell right in between them. Flaherty was rounding third by the time McNeil could pick it up, and was being sent home. McNeil desperately fired it home, and delivered a one-hop strike to Ramos that beat Flaherty by about 15 feet. Ramos presented the tag, and Flaherty was out. The game was over, and the Mets had escaped by the skin of their teeth.
The wild win brings the Mets up to 34-36 on the season, but perhaps more important is that, for the third straight game, the Mets’ bullpen allowed multiple runs. It almost cost them yet another game, and the only reason it didn’t was a wacky play resulting in an out at home that allowed them to slip out with a skinny one-run victory. This is something the team must address if they are going to have any chance at staying in the race the next few weeks.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Pete Alonso, +25.2% WPA, J.D. Davis +11.3% WPA
Big losers: Noah Syndergaard -0.4% WPA, Robert Gsellman -0.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: 5.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: 44.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso hits a three-rum home run (+26.3% WPA)
Teh sux0rest play: Dexter Fowler hits a solo home run (-11.2% WPA)