The series finale between the Mets and Cardinals Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium looked like it would be a duel of aces. The duel was short-lived, however, with Adam Wainwright playing Alexander Hamilton to R.A. Dickey's Aaron Burr. Manager Mike Matheny pulled Wainwright at the game's midway point while Dickey was chased after 6 2/3 innings pitched. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 6-2 and avoided the sweep.
Wainwright struggled from the first, hitting No. 2 hitter Ruben Tejada with a pitch before inducing a double play that ended the inning. In the second, a two-out double by Justin Turner was followed by a two-out single from Josh Thole that made it a 1-0 lead for the visitors. In the third, the Mets managed two singles before Wainwright issued back-to-back walks, the second of which with the bases loaded, which made it 2-0. To his credit, Wainwright halved the lead by hitting a solo homer off of Dickey in the bottom of the inning.
After a 1-2-3 fourth, the Mets hit Wainwright hard in the fifth. Mike Baxter singled to lead off the inning and Daniel Murphy followed suit. Then Ike Davis launched a three-run homer to right field and the Mets led 5-1. Wainwright, who struggled with his command all game, was mercifully given the hook after just five innings pitched with two walks issued and eight hits allowed.
Wainwright gave way to headlining September callup Shelby Miller. In his big-league debut, the former first-rounder impressed, showing good control of his pitches as he attacked the Mets hitters. The velocity on Miller's fastball crept up during his outing, from 90-91 against his first batter to 92-93 against Baxter, the third batter he faced, who struck out swinging on a 93 mph heater to 94-95 mph against the final batter he faced. Miller also dropped a handful of changeups against lefthanded hitters as well as a curve and slider against the righties.
Andres Torres led off against Miller and feebly popped out to the catcher in foul territory. Next up was Dickey, who grounded out to Matt Carpenter at third. Miller struck out Baxter swinging for the third out of the sixth.
Matheny sent the rookie out for a second inning in relief and Miller did not disappoint. After spinning a 78 mph curveball for a called strike to start things off, he struck out Tejada on four pitches. Daniel Murphy followed the Tejada K with a single up the middle on a changeup. Davis then dug in and battled through a seven-pitch at-bat that featured two changeups; on the seventh pitch, Miller struck the first baseman out on a whiff. Miller ended the inning by striking out Lucas Duda on four pitches, the final swing-and-miss coming on a 95 mph four-seamer.
Miller ended his two innings with the following line: 0 R, 1 H, 4 SO, 0 BB. Of the 29 pitches Miller hurled on the afternoon, 21 were for a strike. There was a lot to like about the rookie's debut, even if it was only two innings long.
Matheny chose to sit Matt Holliday, who tweaked his back last night. In this day game following a night game, catcher Yadier Molina also got the day off--a decision that may also have been affected by lingering physical issues from the home plate collision in Pittsburgh. Allen Craig, who had not had a day off since August 20, also rode the bench. Third baseman David Freese was also given the day off in favor of Matt Carpenter. Even though the lineup saw Carlos Beltran making his return from an injured left knee and Lance Berkman making his first start since going on the DL with a knee injury of his own, the Cardinals failed to capitalize on opportunities. El Birdos plated only two runs despite their nine hits and a walk.
Thursday is an off-day and the Cardinals welcome the Brewers to Busch on Friday. Kyle Lohse is slated to take the ball against Yovani Gallardo.