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Five-run ninth lifts Mets to an improbable win over Cardinals

The Mets were down to their last out before the floodgates opened.

New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images

The Mets won tonight 5-2 over the Cardinals. That is a gross oversimplification of the wild series of events that happened in the past few hours, but it is factual, and we here at Amazin’ Avenue are nothing if not a facts-based website!

It’s easy to forget, after what transpired in the final two innings, that this game started out as a a good ol’ fashioned pitcher’s duel, and it was fun to watch. Miles Mikolas hasn’t quite been what he was in 2018 when he finished sixth in NL Cy Young voting, but he’s gotten off to a great start in 2022 with a 1.76 ERA, a 2.17 FIP, and a 1.04 WHIP in 15.1 innings. Meanwhile, Max Scherzer is Max Scherzer? He’s coming off a start in which he gave up one hit and struck out 10 over seven innings. Need we say more?

After a quiet top of the first, Scherzer retired the first two batters—Pete Alonso made a terrific catch falling into the net in foul territory for the second out—before Eduardo Escobar made a throwing error to put the first runner of the game on base. He recovered to retire Nolan Arenado, who is the early favorite for NL Player of the Month in May, to end the inning.

Escobar made up for his error with a one-out single in the second and, after Robinson Canó grounded into a fielder’s choice, Mark Canha was hit to put two runners on. Canha became the 15th Met in 18 games to get hit by a pitch. Jeff McNeil could not bring in a run, however, as he struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. Scherzer responded by striking out the side in the bottom half of the frame, which began a streak of Scherzer striking out seven of the next 14 batters he would face. St. Louis had one of their best threats in the bottom of the third after Tommy Edman walked and Paul Goldschmidt singled with two outs. Scherzer would not let up and struck out Tyler O’Neill to keep things scoreless.

The Mets had no answer for Mikolas, who worked around a one-out single from Alonso in the fourth, a one-out double from McNeil in the fifth, another one-out single from Alonso in the sixth, and a one-out walk from Canha in the seventh to finish with seven scoreless innings. The effort lowered the right-hander’s ERA to 1.21 on the season after scattering four hits and a walk while striking out five.

Meawhile, Scherzer matched Mikolas zero-for-zero, setting down St. Louis in order in the fourth and fifth before giving up a one-out infield single to Goldschmidt in the sixth. The first baseman was the only Cardinals batter to record a base knock against Scherzer on the evening. Mad Max finished strong in the seventh as he set down the side in order and finished his night with a strikeout on his 101st pitch. It was the 106th start of his career where Scherzer struck out 10-plus batters.

From there, it became a battle of the bullpens. After Génesis Cabrera set the Mets down 1-2-3 in the eighth, Trevor May entered for the Mets and surrendered back-to-back singles to Yadier Molina and Harrison Bader to lead off the frame. Edman grounded a ball off May’s glove, which prevented him from getting the double play and instead resulted in one out and two runners in scoring position. May unintentionally walked Goldschmidt, which brought up Tyler O’Neill, who lined a two-run single to break the ice. May was able to escape the inning without further damage, but things were looking bleak for New York heading into the ninth against Giovanni Gallegos.

Alonso flew out on the first pitch of the inning, and Escobar followed with his second hit of the game. Canó grounded out, which put the Mets one out away from a series-opening loss. With Escobar on second following a defensive indifference, Canha grounded out to the Gold Glove-winning Arenado, and it looked like the game was coming to an unceremonious end. At that moment, it was as if the baseball gods who always smile on the Cardinals gave some of that love to the Mets, and Arenado’s throw sailed high over the first base bag, which brought in a run and put Canha on first.

With new life, McNeil ripped a double, which put two in scoring position and brought up Dominic Smith as the pinch hitter with the game on the line. Smith ripped a grounder to first, and Goldschmidt made the stop but was unable to throw out Smith, who beat the ball to first on a diving slide. As that was happening, both the pinch runner Travis Jankowski and McNeil raced around third to score the tying and go-ahead runs. St. Louis then lifted Gallegos in favor of lefty T.J. McFarland, and he surrendered a first-pitch two-run homer to Brandon Nimmo just as SNY was returning from commercial. The series of events was as exciting as it was unexpected, as the Mets pulled together an improbable five-run ninth and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

In the bottom of the ninth, Edwin Díaz worked around a walk and was able to shut the door on the Cardinals, giving the Mets their third victory in four tries on this road trip. New York improved to 13-5 on the season and, record aside, this has just been a really fun ride to experience so far. The Mets will try to make it three wins in a row tomorrow, as Chris Bassitt will take the mound against Jordan Hicks.

Box scores

MLB
ESPN

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Dominic Smith, 65.0% WPA
Big Mets loser: Trevor May, -35.3% WPA
Mets pitchers: 9.9% WPA
Mets hitters: 40.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dominic Smith infield single in the ninth, 65.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Tyler O’Neill two-run single in the eighth, -18.3% WPA

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