After scoring in eight of the game’s first ten half-innings, the Cardinals and the Mets treated their Father’s Day crowd to a show. But Nolan Arenado’s ninth-inning home run proved the difference as the Cardinals beat the Mets 8-7 in the rubber game Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
Arenado started the game by breaking his 0-for-13 slump and sending a hanging slider far over the left-field wall in the top of the first inning. With Brendan Donovan already on second base following his leadoff double, the Cardinals took an early 2-0 lead in another first-inning struggle for Mets’ starter Carlos Carrasco.
Francisco Lindor picked him up in the bottom of the inning with a two-out solo shot to left field from the right side of the plate. The home run came a day after the birth of his second child, giving the Lindor family a Father’s Day memory and cutting the Cardinals lead to 2-1. But the Cardinals quickly struck back.
After an Eduardo Escobar throwing error and a walk put Andrew Knizner and Tommy Edman on base with one out, Donovan’s hard single to center field and Paul Goldschmidt’s bases-clearing double put three more runs on the board for the Cardinals. Carrasco finished the second inning with consecutive strikeouts on the Nolans Arenado and Gorman, but the barn door had already burst open as St. Louis settled into a 5-1 lead. That wouldn’t be it for the Mets, however.
With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Jeff McNeil reached first on a hit-by-pitch, and Eduardo Escobar reached third on a deep fly ball to center field that was misplayed by Tommy Edman, a play that was eventually ruled a triple. Mark Canha’s walk brought Brandon Nimmo as the tying run up to the plate, and Nimmo exploited the Cardinal’s defensive miscues with a two-run double that got past a diving Jordan Walker. After letting the ball get past him in left field, Walker and relay man Paul DeJong threw Nimmo out at third to end the inning, but the result was a three-run inning that brought the Mets back into the game.
Not satisfied with a one-run lead, DeJong followed his inning-ending assist with a two-out solo home run off the second-deck façade in left field. The home run marked the fifth-consecutive half-inning with a run, a streak the Mets would end by putting up a zero in the bottom of the third.
The Mets looked for a long outing from Carrasco, but his outing wouldn’t go past the fourth inning after Carrasco issued a leadoff walk to Edman. Carrasco experienced his usual first-inning hardship, but with five earned runs in just three innings, those struggles extended through all nine outs he recorded. His replacement John Curtiss found himself in trouble with runners on the corner and no one out, but a pop fly from Paul Goldschmidt and a double play off Arenado’s bat allowed the Mets to escape the inning still down 6-4.
Mirroring the top of the three-run rally in the second, McNeil reached on another two-out hit-by-pitch, followed by an Escobar walk. Canha’s single up the middle scored McNeil and brought the Mets to within one run, but Nimmo’s strikeout stopped the rally. With all five of their runs scored with two outs, the Mets found themselves down 6-5 after four.
Once again unsatisfied with a one-run lead, the Cardinals struck back on Walker’s opposite-field solo home run to right field. Starling Marte looked to have the catch lined up, but the ball just cleared the fence in triple’s alley and gave the Cardinals a 7-5 lead. But wouldn’t you know it? The score would not stay that way very long.
Lindor’s one-out walk brought the tying run to the plate, and though Pete Alonso couldn’t oblige the opportunity, Tommy Pham gladly punished a pitch beyond the right-center field fence to tie the game at seven. Fittingly, it was Pham’s seventh home run of the year, continuing a hot streak as June’s best batter in an otherwise miserable Mets’ lineup. It also capped off the fifth-straight scoreful inning, as the Mets and Cardinals combined only two scoreless half-innings in the first part of the game.
And then, the scoring stopped. The sixth inning passed without a run from either team. Then the seventh. And then the eighth. And with a 7-7 game at hand, the drama only increased with each passing frame.
With Adam Ottavino on the mound attempting to preserve the lead in the ninth, Arenado did in his final at-bat as he did in his first, sending a rocket over the left-field fence for a home run. It was only a one-run lead, but it was all the Cardinals needed as Jordan Hicks and his 104 MPH fastball shut down the Mets in the bottom of the ninth.
Speaking of 104, the Mets head to sweltering Houston tomorrow to take on the Astros. Max Scherzer is scheduled to pitch against Hunter Brown, with first pitch scheduled at 8:10 ET.
SB Nation Game Threads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Tommy Pham, +21% WPA
Big Mets loser: Carlos Carrasco, -50% WPA
Mets pitchers: -60% WPA
Mets hitters: +10% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Tommy Pham home run, +27.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Nolan Arenado go-ahead home run, -39.4% WPA