After dealing with knee tendinitis that kept him sidelined in Triple-A for a month, Joey Lucchesi returned to the big league mound tonight for the first time since May for a spot start to give Kodai Senga extra rest. Lucchesi performed brilliantly in the Mets’ 7-1 victory over the Cardinals, tossing 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings and needing just 84 pitches to do so en route to his second win of the season.
The Mets got things started right away, as Brandon Nimmo led off the game with a solo homer. That long ball not only set a new career high in home runs for Nimmo, but it extended his hitting streak to ten games to boot. Lucchesi and fellow lefty Zack Thompson settled into a rhythm after that and the game remained close until the middle innings. The Mets added a run in the third when Francisco Lindor laced a two-out single down the right field line, advanced to second on a walk by Francisco Alvarez, and scored on an RBI single by Jeff McNeil.
Lucchesi’s streak of twelve consecutive batters retired was snapped by Masyn Winn’s first major league hit—a slow chopper down the third base line that Jonathan Araúz probably should have let roll to see if it would go foul. As it stood, Araúz flung it to first base too late to get the speedy Winn and then a small controversy transpired when Pete Alonso—likely not knowing it was the rookie’s first hit—flung the ball into the stands, which resulted in some jawing from the Cardinals dugout and a negotiation with a fan to retrieve the ball.
Things got a bit dicey for Lucchesi and the Mets in the bottom of the sixth when the Cardinals put runners on second and third with two out. Lucchesi was removed from the game in favor of Phil Bickford, who walked Jordan Walker to load the bases, but then bounced back to notch a huge strikeout of the pinch hitter Alec Burleson to neutralize the threat and keep the Cardinals off the board. The Mets really took control of the game in the seventh when they put up a five spot against James Naile to make it 7-0, punctuated by a three-run homer by Jeff McNeil.
Sam Coonrod, who had been sidelined since spring training with a lat injury made his debut by pitching a very quick 1-2-3 seventh inning. Dennis Santana—also making his triumphant return to the Mets—gave up one run in the ninth to break up the shutout, but absorbed the final two innings of work to secure the victory.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Joey Lucchesi, +25.6% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jonathan Araúz, -8.7% WPA
Mets pitchers: +35.8% WPA
Mets hitters: +14.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil’s RBI single in the third, +10.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Tyler O’Neill’s double which put the tying run in scoring position in the sixth, -6.0% WPA