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Bullpen Squanders Heroic Effort by Lynn, Pham: A Recap

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Cardinals scrape together a lead, then blow it in the 8th and 9th again.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets
Too Little, Too Late.
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the definition of a getaway game, with the Cardinals closing out a 4-game stand in Citi Park, starting at 11:10 AM Central, 12:10 local. The Cardinals, 2 games under .500, are 4.5 games out of first in the NL Central, while the Mets are.... more games under .500. Like, 8. Lance Lynn vs. Seth Lugo.

If we win today, It’ll mark a badly needed 3-1 series win against a struggling Mets squad. If we lose, might as well sell after splitting with the Mets - it ain’t getting better from there, absent a miracle.

The Game

Lance Lynn hung a middle-middle fastball to Lucas Duda in the second inning. Duda deposited it in somebody’s bullpen to give the Mets the lead, 1-0.

Lynn got into trouble in the 4th again, giving up a leadoff double to Michael Conforto and seeing him advance to third on a Yoenis Cespedes flyout. Lynn buckled down and struck out Duda though, and T.J. Rivera lined out to center, ending the threat.

Seth Lugo, meanwhile, took a no-hitter into the top of the 5th, disturbed only by a solemn 2nd-inning plunking of Luke Voit. Trouble struck though, as Greg Garcia ripped a double into right. The Birdos didn’t capitalize on it, though.

They picked right back up in the 6th, though. After a leadoff groundout from Lynn, Carpenter walked, and Tommy Pham hammered a middle-middle 88.8 mph two-seamer for an RBI double.

Game tied 1-1.

And Pham wasn’t finished, dear reader. In the 8th, he returned to the plate with a chip still resting on his shoulder. After working a 3-1 count, Pham demolished an Erik Goeddel changeup, sending it high above the Metropolitans faithful.

Cardinals lead, 2-1. We had a chance to keep it going when Dexter Fowler followed up with a single on the next pitch, but Fowler tested Rene Rivera’s arm and got thrown out. Voit popped out to the Mets’ other Rivera, T.J., to end the inning.

Brett Cecil did his duty, serving Wilmer Flores an 82-mph thing, belt-high and over the heart of the plate. Flores obliged Cecil’s kind offer, depositing it in the left-center seats. I almost want to embed the video so that you can feel my pain, but I’ll refrain. Just know, this is getting old. Mets tie it up, 2-2.

And in the 9th, the Cardinals went in order. Then Rosenthal did the following things: Walk to Conforto, (the 4 balls were nowhere close), 5-4 FC with Cespedes replacing Conforto at first, flyout by Duda, single by T.J. Rivera with Cespedes advancing to 3rd. So the stage is set, with runners on the corners and two outs, with domestic abuser Jose Reyes coming to the plate.

Reyes ripped a 98 mph fastball down the right field line. Matt Carpenter made a great play to grab it. “We’re headed to extras!” I exulted. Carpenter turned around to throw Reyes out at first, and—

No one was there.

Rosenthal sprinted desperately to try to make up for his hesitation. But it was too little, too late. Reyes won the footrace, and Cespedes scored. Mets win, 3-2.

Thanks VanHicklestein:

Postgame

Lynn really had a pretty stellar outing, aside from that mistake in the 2nd to Duda. 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 R. Good game, Lance. It’s been fun watching you in a Cardinals uniform, and I’ll be mildly surprised if I see it again, with the trade deadline looming.

Shame we couldn’t have held the lead. The bullpen has really not done that poorly this year - it is precisely in the middle of the pack for blown saves and by most pitching metrics, but holy moley it feels like they’ve blown every close game we’ve played. And I don’t want to throw stones at Rosie, as he’s generally been one of the bright spots this year, but man... You have got to cover the bag there. You’re the ninth fielder. You’ve just got to. Carpenter made a good grab, but without anybody to accept the throw, it just doesn’t matter.

Tommy Pham is a joy.

This team continues to frustrate. Back at it tomorrow, with the Cubs on tap at 1:20 PM Central. If we can sweep the Cubs, we’re right back in it and shouldn’t get too freaked out at this stage in the season, but barring that, it might be time to think about capitalizing on the seller’s market this year.