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The Mets take Game 1 but fall in Game 2 as they settle for a doubleheader split

The Mets and Cardinals played two low-scoring affairs in Flushing.

MLB: Game One-St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

GAME 1

You would forgive most Mets fans for assuming they were punting Game 1 of today’s doubleheader. With Trevor Williams on the mound against Cardinals ace Miles Mikolas, whose 1.49 ERA was third among NL starting pitchers at the start of play today, plus with some of the bench players in the lineup, it seemed the team was keen to put their focus on the nightcap. And yet, Williams gave the team an impressive outing in place of the injured Tylor Megill, and the offense did just enough against Mikolas to give the Mets a 3-1 victory in the first game.

Williams had his command working in this one, as he went four innings and threw 46 of his 65 pitches for strike. He was especially efficient early on, as he tossed an eight-pitch first inning and threw 20 of 26 pitches for strikes had a quick 8-pitch inning.

At the plate, one of the exhilarating moments early on in this game was Jeff McNeil’s 12-pitch at-bat against Mikolas, which resulted in an out but also drove up his pitch count. It also foreshadowed that Mikolas wasn’t fooling batters on this afternoon and perhaps didn’t have his best stuff, which would come into play as he ended up giving up three earned runs for the first time this season.

While the Mets couldn’t get on the board in the first, they broke through in the second and in the third. In the second inning, Dominic Smith led off with a single to break out of his 0-for-20 slump. Eduardo Escobar worked out a walk, and Luis Guillorme ripped a single through the hole on the right side of the infield to load up the bases with nobody out. Travis Jankowski hit a liner up the middle that deflected off the pitcher’s glove, which resulted in an out at second but led to the first run of the game crossing the plate.

The Mets couldn’t push another run across in the second, but they plated two in the third. Francisco Lindor led off and reached on an error by shortstop Brendan Donovan, and Jeff McNeil drove him home with a sharp line drive double to right. After Pete Alonso’s fly out advanced McNeil, Smith hit a double—his second hit in as many innings—to make it 3-0. And with that, Mikolas had finally given up three runs in a game in 2022.

Meawhile, Williams worked around some third inning trouble, as he had runners on the corners with one out but got Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado out to escape unscathed. In the fourth, he worked around a two-out double from Dylan Carlson to finish his afternoon with a flourish. It was by far his best start of the year, and exactly what the doctor ordered. He could have probably gone out for another inning, but Buck Showalter stuck to his plan, and it worked out for the club.

St. Louis had their best opportunity in the fifth but we unable to break through against Jake Reed, who entered in place of Williams. Reed, who was called up specifically for this game and wound up back in Syracuse by evening’s end, was wild to start his two-inning outing. He walked Donovan, got to 3-1 on Harrison Bader before striking him out, and then walked Tommy Edman to put two on. However, he became the second Mets pitcher to get Goldschmidt and Arenado out with a runner in scoring position to keep the Mets ahead, as he struck out the former and got the latter out on a fly ball to left field. Reed returned with a much less eventful sixth inning and wound up with his first major league victory for his efforts.

After a 1-2-3 inning from Seth Lugo in the seventh, Drew Smith entered for the eighth. After retiring Edman on a strikeout, Goldschmidt deposited a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall to break the shutout. Smith recovered to retire Arenado and Juan Yepez to finish the frame.

That set the stage for Edwin Díaz in the ninth. He easily disposed of Yadier Molina and Carlson on strikeouts to begin the inning. With Molina’s strikeout, it broke a 15-game hitting streak that he had at Citi Field. It looked like Díaz was heading towards a quick inning, but he would up allowing a single to Tyler O’Neill and walking Donovan to put the tying runs on base, but he recovered to strike out Bader to pick up his ninth save in ten tries this season.

With the win, the Mets improved their record to 11-1 following a loss. Of note in this game, Brandon Nimmo’s streak of 26 consecutive games reaching base came to an end, as he went 0-for-4 on the afternoon and did not draw a walk. Smith and Escobar, who have both struggled mightily at the plate, collected two hits apiece, while McNeil, who leads the team with a .314 batting average, also got two hits.

Box scores

MLB
ESPN

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Trevor Williams, 18.6% WPA
Big Mets loser: Patrick Mazeika, -7.2% WPA
Mets pitchers: 37.4% WPA
Mets hitters: 12.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil run-scoring double in the third, 11.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Tommy Edman third-inning single, -8.1% WPA

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GAME 2

The Mets failed to sweep a doubleheader for the second straight time after sweeping their first two doubleheaders this year. This time, they took the opener 3-1 but fell 4-3 in the nightcap to settle for a split.

For only the second time since he was traded away, Steven Matz made a Citi Field start as a visitor. After allowing two runs in 5.2 innings in his return with the Blue Jays last year, he had similar success this time around against his old club. Meanwhile, Taijuan Walker couldn’t replicate his last start, when he shut out the Nationals over seven innings.

It was a tale of two halves of Walker’s start. Over his first three innings, he allowed just one two-out single in the first but otherwise was effective and efficient as he tossed 11, 13, and 14 pitches in those three innings. In his last two innings of work, however, he tossed 28 pitches in each as he allowed one run in the fourth and two in the fifth to fall behind.

But before we get there, the Mets jumped to an early lead off their old friend. It was Mark Canha, who wasn’t here when the Long Island lefty called the Citi Field mound home, who took him deep for a solo shot. Matz settled down and just allowed a Nimmo double in the third, but otherwise cruised into the fourth.

St. Louis evened things up in the fourth against Walker, who began to struggle from that point onward. Donovan singled to lead things off, and Goldschmidt doubled him home. The Cardinals first baseman had a great game, collecting three hits on the evening after homering in the first game. Dickerson singled following Goldschmidt’s double to put runners on the corners, but Walker collected himself to retire O’Neill and Sosa.

The Mets got right back in front in the bottom half of the frame, as Escobar hit an opposite field home run off Matz into the opposing bullpen. Matz, who often struggled with the long ball in Queens, has continued that trend in St. Louis, as he has now allowed seven in his last three starts. He was able to compose himself and got out of the next couple of innings without further damage. In all, Matz didn’t walk anyone and struck out six while only allowing three hits on the evening.

The Cardinals went ahead in the top half of the fifth against Walker. Knizner got things started with a one-out single, and Edman tripled him home to tie up the game. After a Donovan walk, Godschmidt—who else?—doubled home the go-ahead run. Like he did in the last inning, Walker was able to minimize the damage, as he got a fly ball from Carlson that was too shallow to score Donovan. After issuing an intentional walk to Dickerson, O’Neill lined out to end the inning.

The Mets had a terrific scoring chance in the sixth inning, as Matz was lifted after 92 pitches in favor of rookie reliever Andre Pallante. The youngster, in his 12th major league appearance, could not command any of his pitches and ended up issuing consecutive free passes to Canha, Lindor, and Alonso with one out. Not wishing to see whether Pallante could compose himself, Oliver Marmol turned to Génesis Cabrera, and the lefthander promptly got Escobar to strike out and got McNeil to pop up on the first pitch to end the inning. In the bottom half of the seventh with one runner on, Nimmo fouled a ball off his knee and, after getting thrown out on a grounder to end that inning, limped off the field and was eventually removed from the game. It was later revealed that Nimmo is day-to-day with a bruised right quad.

The Mets got a huge break in the eighth with Ryan Helsley on the mound and capitalized to tie the game. After Canha flew out to center to kick things off, Lindor walked and Alonso lined out to left. Escobar then struck out, but a passed ball allowed him to advance to first base, which opened the door for McNeil, who busted through with a single that brought home the game-tying run. J.D. Davis struck out, but it was a brand new ballgame with Walker off the hook and Matz no longer in line for the win.

Their luck lasted precisely one commercial break, as the Mets fell behind again in the ninth. Showalter decided to stick with Joely Rodriguez, who recorded the final out of the eighth on three pitches. He immediately walked Donovan and, because of the three-batter rule, had to stay in to face Goldschmidt. He got the right-hander to fly out to right, but he then walked Carlson after Donovan stole second. With Arenado coming up to pinch hit, Showalter turned to Adam Ottavino, who punched out Arenado for the second out. With the game hanging in the balance and O’Neill, who had struck out six times already in the doubleheader, coming to the plate, things looked promising for New York. O’Neill hit a routine grounder to third that should’ve ended the inning, but Escobar couldn’t handle it cleanly, and his throw was late, allowing Donovan to score.

The Mets, who rallied against Giovanny Gallegos back in April, mounted one last comeback attempt in the ninth against the Cardinals’ closer, but they came up just short this time around. WIth one out, Smith walked and Guillorme hit a single, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Gallegos settled down and struck out both Canha and Lindor to end the game and get St. Louis the win.

The split put New York back at 10 games over .500 at 24-14. The Mets who, as previously mentioned in this recap, are 11-1 following a loss, will try again to pick up a victory following a defeat. They have the right man on the mound for it, as they will turn to Max Scherzer tomorrow night against Jordan Hicks.

Box scores

MLB
ESPN

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Jeff McNeil, 17.1% WPA
Big Mets loser: Taijuan Walker, -20.4% WPA
Mets pitchers: -39.2% WPA
Mets hitters: -10.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil run-scoring single, 32.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Tyler O’Neill go-ahead single, -35.1% WPA

SB Nation GameThreads

Amazin’ Avenue
Viva El Birdos