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Splitting in St. Louis

The Mets and Cardinals played a rather lengthy-feeling double header, which ended in a split between the ballclubs.

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

Game One

In the first game, Marcus Stroman took the hill for the Mets. He was greeted rudely in the bottom of the first inning when Paul Goldschmidt took him deep to put the Cardinals up 1-0. In the third inning, Stroman gave up three straight singles to Dylan Carlson, Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado, scoring another run.

Two runs shouldn’t have been an insurmountable challenge for the Mets, but the offense was cold as ice early in the evening. The Mets got their chance in the fourth inning against Cardinals’ starter Kwang Hyun Kim, but so many bizarre things happened in that inning that it seems miraculous that the inning ever ended, let alone that the Mets scratched out a run.

The inning began with a walk to Michael Conforto. The next batter, cleanup (?!) hitter Kevin Pillar blooped a single to put two on with no one out. This led to Kim’s translator coming out for a meeting on the mound, which is something that is not allowed without a coach or manager accompanying the translator. The umpiring crew either was not aware of this or did not notice, as the game carried on without consequence.

However, Kim then walked Jeff McNeil, and when the Cardinals wanted pitching coach Mike Maddux to go to the mound, the umpiring crew questioned the move, as a second mound visit from a coach/manager needs to end with a pitching change, but ultimately allowed it. This led to an eight-minute delay while the umpiring crew spoke on the headset to the Chelsea-based review crew. Why did they have the conversation after allowing the visit? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. The umpiring this season continues to be an embarrassment.

Three pitches later, a foul ball off the bat of James McCann hit Cardinals’ catcher Andrew Knizner in a very delicate area. This lead to a further delay, but thankfully no serious injury for Knizner. McCann would hit a grounder to third base, where Arenado bobbled the ball attempting a double play, but managed to step on third base as he fell down, recording one out as Conforto scored, making the score 2-1.

Despite the long layoff, Stroman looked strong in the bottom of the fourth, and at one point managed to strike out five in a row. With two outs in the fifth, Francisco Lindor muffed a throw to first base, allowing Arenado to reach first base. The next batter was noted Met killer Paul DeJong, who hammered a Stroman pitch over the wall, putting the Cardinals up 4-1.

Jacob Barnes looked good in his scoreless inning of relief, but the Cardinals’ relievers - Rysan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, and Alex Reyes - kept the Mets off the board for the final three innings of the short, 7 inning, game.

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‘Box scores

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Win Probability Added

Mets vs Cardinals Game 1 WPA Chart 5/5/21
Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Jeff McNeil, +5.9% WPA

Big Mets loser: Marcus Stroman, -20.8% WPA

Mets pitchers: -20.2% WPA

Mets hitters: -29.8% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil’s fourth inning walk, +11.8% WPA

Teh sux0rest play: Paul DeJong’s fifth inning home run, -15.2% WPA

Game Two

Luis Rojas and the Mets fielded quite a different lineup in game two of the twin bill, with Tomás Nido, Jonathan Villar, Jose Peraza, Dom Smith, and Kevin Pillar all getting the start. Miguel Castro was tasked with the start, as an opener, with Jordan Yamamoto following him (in his Mets debut, no less!).

It seemed, on its face, as a recipe for disaster after the big bats did, well, absolutely nothing mere hours beforehand. On the contrary, the Mets scored seven runs in seven innings, with the -illars and Nido leading the charge, driving in six of the seven runs of the night.

The offense went quietly in the first, and opener Miguel Castro stranded two runners in the bottom of the frame, getting Paul DeJong to fly out deeply to left field, a surprise considering his obscene numbers against the Mets.

The Mets offense started its ascent in the second inning. Dominic Smith singled and Pillar doubled, setting up second and third with no outs. Back to back fly outs by Villar and Peraza awakened nightmares of stranded runners past, but a wild pitch by Cardinals starter Johan Oviedo (with a questionable block attempt by old friend Ali Sanchez included), saw Smith scamper home with the first run of the game, the only run not batted in by Nido, or either -illar.

Five pitches later, Nido took an 85 mph hanging slider roughly 1,000 ft. for a two run home run, his first of the year, pushing the lead to 3-0. An uneventful bottom of the second, and top and bottom half of the third, with Yamamoto giving up some hits but stranding them on base, saw us go into the 4th inning with a 3-0 for our beloved Mets.

Not to be outdone by Nido, Jonathan Villar went oppo taco on a 1-0 changeup in the top of the fourth, his first on the year as well, and by proxy his first in the blue and orange. The bottom of the fourth saw the Cardinals get on the board for the first time. Yamamoto hit Tyler O’Neil to lead off the inning, promptly stole second to put himself into scoring position. Despite getting Harrison Bader and Ali Sanchez out, Rojas pulled Yamamoto for Aaron Loup. A single by Dylan Carlson spoiled Yamamoto’s 0.00 ERA and put the Cardinals on the board, and a crisp single by Tommy Edman put the Mets and Loup in peak scary hours. The crafty lefty got Matt Carpenter to fly out, though, ending the threat.

The bottom of the frame saw the Mets strike back fast, with Jeff McNeil leading off with a single. Michael Conforto walked in between a pair of fly outs by Pete Alonso and Dom Smith, setting up Kevin Pillar with two on and one out. Pillar delivered, hitting a soft, sinking fly ball that just evaded a diving Edman, scoring McNeil with ease. An infield single by Villar pushed the lead to 6-1, as he narrowly beat out a excellent play by Nolan Arenado.

Trevor May worked around a single in the bottom of the fifth, and the Mets did not do much in the top of the sixth. Robert Gsellman was shaky in his appearance in the bottom of the sixth frame, giving up a double to Bader. A ground out moved him to third, and an infield single by Justin Williams made it a 6-2 game. Back to back fly outs ended the inning.

The Mets offense continued to look like a major league outfit and not be completely pathetic in the top of the seventh. Alonso and Conforto walked to lead off the inning, and Smith singled to load the bases (though Tyler O’Neil almost made an absurdly good diving catch on the hit). Pillar continued his excellent week, driving in a run with a ground out, pushing it to 7-2, the future final score.

Jeurys Familia came in, gave up a hit against the shift and nothing more, en route to a refreshing and necessary 7-2 victory.

The Mets and Cardinals will wrap up their series at 1:15 EST tomorrow, with Taijuan Walker going up against another old friend in John Gant.

SB Nation GameThreads

Amazin’ Avenue
Viva El Birdos

Box scores

ESPN
MLB

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Tomás Nido, +18.8% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jose Peraza, -10.6% WPA
Mets pitchers: +16.9% WPA
Mets hitters: +33.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Tomás Nido’s second inning two-run home run, +18.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Dylan Carlson’s fourth inning single, -4.6% WPA