In their most potent offensive performance in a while, the Mets topped the Cardinals 11-4. There were a lot of encouraging at bats to talk about this one and it’s always good to beat St. Louis, but the conversation will be dominated by concerns over Max Scherzer. The Mets’ ace with Jacob deGrom sidelined, Scherzer pulled himself from the game in the middle of an at bat after something seemed to tighten up on him. Later information makes the situation seem less grim, but the win certainly doesn’t feel as good with the specter of another pitching injury hanging over the team.
The Mets got to work early against Jordan Hicks, loading the bases with one out on a walk, single, and a questionable hit by pitch. Jeff McNeil, who has been the Mets second best hitter this season (trailing only Brandon Nimmo), came through on the first pitch he saw with a two-run single. A pair of strikeouts from Eduardo Escobar and Dominic Smith stranded a pair, but the Mets had a quick lead.
It was short lived. A throwing error by Escobar and a double by Dylan Carlson put runners on second and third with one out for the Cardinals in the next frame. That brought three-time MVP Albert Pujols to the plate against three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, and the former triumphed with a jam shot bloop hit that scored two Cardinals and tied the game. The single was Pujols’ 3,314th hit, pushing him to tenth on the all time list.
Frustration was the state of the game for the next three innings, as the Mets continually failed to capitalize on opportunities against Jordan Hicks. The Cardinals also had their share of opportunities, mostly brought about by soft hits, but Scherzer did what Scherzer does and kept things tied.
Finally, the Mets broke through in the fifth against the Cardinals’ bullpen. A walk and yet another hit-by-pitch put two runners on, and Pete Alonso followed with an RBI single. McNeil’s second single of the game loaded the bases, and this the Mets capitalized. Escobar flew a sacrifice fly out to left, Dominic Smith poked one down the left field line, and Luis Guillorme executed a perfect safety squeeze to push across three runs. The Mets had retaken a 6-2 lead.
Once again, the high of being in front was immediately dampened. With two outs in the top of the fifth and an 0-1 count against Albert Pujols, Max Scherzer snapped off a poor slider and immediately signaled to the dugout, mouthing “I’m done”. Scherzer exited the game and headed down the tunnel, leaving two men on base and, more importantly, leaving all Met fans with a looming sense of dread. Adam Ottavino escaped that jam, but a game the Mets were comfortably leading no longer felt so good to watch.
That anxiety felt warranted when Nolan Arenado launched a two-run home run in the top of the eighth, cutting the lead to two. Those feelings were largely unfounded; Seth Lugo didn’t give up anything else, and the Mets put together a five-run rally in the bottom of the eighth to put the game out of reach. Luis Guillorme played a part again, pulling a leadoff single into right, before Brandon Nimmo drove him in with a triple. After a Mark Canha RBI single and a Francisco Lindor walk, Pete Alonso capped things off with a three-run blast to put the Mets up 11-4.
Meanwhile, the Mets also got some encouraging updates on Scherzer, as the injury seems only to be tightness in his left side / back. He’s due for imaging tomorrow. That it isn’t his arm is great news, though oblique injuries can also linger. All things considered this is a fairly good outcome from what could have been a disastrous situation. Oh also, Collin Holderman struck out two in a scoreless ninth to close out the 11-4 win.
At 25-14, the Mets continue to find themselves well out in front of the rest of the NL East. No other team is above .500, and the closest team in the standings is six games back. The Mets also have the second best record in the National League, trailing only the Dodgers. Things haven’t been as great lately - injuries have piled up, the offense is really slumping, and the holes in the bullpen have shown a bit - but this team is still playing very solid ball and continues to build a comfortable cushion in the standings.
The Mets will play one more with the Cardinals tomorrow afternoon before heading out to Colorado. Chris Bassitt will take the mound opposite Dakota Hudson while we all continue to wait with baited breath for further updates on Max Scherzer’s health.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Mark Canha, +18.9% WPA
Big Mets loser: None
Mets pitchers: +6.7% WPA
Mets hitters: +43.3% 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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