Baseball has returned, and with it came our first reminder that it can be a cruel mistress. The Cardinal debut effort featured a downright bad start by Carlos Martinez, coupled with a plethora of strikeouts from the offense, poor relief work, and a run-scoring error, to boot.
The best course of action as a fan is to put today out of your mind. It’s always frustrating to start the season off with a loss. Especially a clunker like today’s. Only madness can come from dwelling on this game.
The Cardinals are still a good team, and we saw flashes of what we know they can do: Molina and Jose Martinez took one of the best pitchers in the game deep, Pham covered serious ground in CF, Hicks & Mayers flummoxed hitters with fastballs, and even Jose Oquendo pulled off a pair of baserunning gambles.
There is still good baseball ahead from this team.
Noah Syndergaard came out pumping heat, striking out Dexter Fowler with a trio of 99mph fastballs, and getting Pham & Carpenter to ground out on a pair come-backers. He required just 7 pitches.
I've missed Noah Syndergaard and his 91.5 MPH slider... pic.twitter.com/hv53ryW6vY— Daren Willman (@darenw) March 29, 2018
Carlos Martinez, however, was a little more Jose Urena than Syndergaard. He missed inside a couple times and ended up hitting Brandon Nimmo to lead off the game, struck out Yoenis Cespedes with a badly-missed fastball, walked Jay Bruce, and required a (((mound visit))) during the PA to Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera ended up grounding to 1st for what should have been an inning-ending double play, had Jose Martinez not air-mailed the ball into LF, allowing the first run to score. The defense redeemed itself by converting a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Todd Frazier. Carlos threw 20 pitches. 1-0 Mets.
The Cardinals picked their ace back up in the 2nd. After Ozuna struck out looking at a low strike, Jose Martinez singled through the hole on the left side of the infield. Yadier Molina followed with a towering shot off the LF foul pole to put the Cardinals on top. Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong became Syndergaard’s next strike out victims, bumping his pitch count to 26. 2-1 Cardinals.
Carlos continued to struggle. He got Adrian Gonzalez to fline out of 3B, walked Kevin Plawecki, and struck out Syndergaard, poising himself for a quick inning. But then he allowed a single to #9 hitter Rosario, walked Nimmo, and surrendered an 0-2, 2-run single to Cespedes, and walked Jay Bruce on 10 pitches. With Mike Mayers warming in the pen, Carlos finally managed to strike out Cabrera. He had suddenly thrown 58 pitches. 3-2 Mets.
Syndergaard struck out the side in the 3rd, getting Carlos on 6 pitches, Fowler on 4, and Pham on 5, bring his total to 41.
Carlos escaped unscathed in the 3rd. He got a much-needed 1st-pitch out off the bat of Frazier, then walked Gonzalez before Plaweckie socked a double down the LF line. Carlos battled back to strike out Syndergaard, and got Rosario to ground out to SS on his 71st pitch.
Carpenter led off the 4th by chipping a double down the RF line. Ozuna K, Jose singled Carpenter in with a single to RCF. After Molina flew out to RF, DeJong singled through the hole created by a called hit-and-run, but Wong grounded out to end the rally. Syndergaard had thrown 61 pitches. 3-3 Tie.
Carlos finally pulled himself together in the 4th. He got Nimmo to line out to LCF, aided by a blazing Tommy Pham, then got Cespedes to strike out swinging, and Bruce to fly out to deep LF with his 9th pitch of the inning, bringing his total to 80.
Carlos earned himself another PA, using it to flail at couple of breaking balls and strike out. Fowler finally got ahold of one, but lined out to CF, and Pham struck out swinging at Syndergaard’s 75th pitch, becoming his 10th strike out victim already.
But just like that, Carlos was toast. He got Cabrera to fly out to LF to start the frame, but then walked Frazier, and surrendered a double down the RF line and the lead to Gonzalez, ending his afternoon.
Matt Bowman was The Mikes’ choice as the first man out of the bullpen. Plawecki greeted him with a walk, Syndergaard sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Rosario knocked them in with a single to LCF. Nimmo and Cespedes followed with singles to extend the Mets’ lead and bounce Bowman from the game.
Brett Cecil contributed next. He first hung a breaking ball that Bruce smacked for an RBI single to RF, but finally got Cabrera to pop out to Molina in foul territory. 8-3 Mets.
Jose Martinez did his damnedest to drag the Cardinals back into this game. After Carpenter flew out to LF and Ozuna grounded out to SS, he uppercut a low fastball over the wall in LCF. 8-4 Mets.
Mike Mayers 2.0 made his debut next. He reminded everyone of his former self by allowing a pair of hard-hit singles by Frazier and Gonzalez, but settled back in to get Plawecki to fly out to LF, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores to pop out to 1B, and Rosario to strike out on a 97mph fastball.
Robert Gsellman relieved Syndergaard and picked up where Thor left off. He got DeJong to strike out chasing a 2-seamer inside, Wong to watch a 2-seamer walk through the back door, and pinch-hitter Yairo Munoz to wave over the top of a curveball.
Jordan Hicks made his major league debut next. Flashing 102mph heat, he gave up an infield single to Nimmo, erased him with a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Cespedes, and struck out Bruce with an elevated fastball. Child’s play.
Anthony Swarzak relieved next for the Mets. He got Fowler to ground out to SS, Pham to strike out swinging, and Carpenter to fly out to LF.
Sam Tuivailala debuted next. He walked Cabrera and struck out Frazier to start the inning. Gonzalez worked a walk while Cabrera advanced to 3B on a pair of wild pitches, and Plawecki continued his torrid afternoon with an RBI single. Tui finally got out of the jam by inducing a 5-4-3 double play from pinch-hitter Juan Lagares. 9-4 Mets.
Jeurys Familia closed the game out. He got Ozuna to strike out swinging, Jose Martinez to pop out to 2B, and, after walking Molina, got DeJong to line out to 2B. Mets win 9-4.
Carlos Martinez: 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 5 K, 6 BB, 36 GSc
Noah Syndergaard: 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 10 K, 0 BB, 50 GSc
- Yadi’s 2nd inning home run was off a 97.7mph fastball, the 2nd-hardest pitch on which he’s homered since 2008, per Daren Willman.
- The Mets sent 10 batters to the plate in the 5th inning.
- The Cardinals haven’t allowed 8+ runs in a game on Opening Day since 2004 (8-6 loss to the Brewers.)
- Mayers’ fastball sat in a respectable 95-97 range, but the spring training radar guns may have been a little hot.
- In a game started by Noah Syndergaard, Jordan Hicks threw the fastest 7 pitches.
I wonder when the last time Noah Syndergaard made a start and his fastest pitch was only the eighth-fastest of the game. Jordan Hicks makes a great first impression. pic.twitter.com/k2MAwfNd4X— Craig Edwards (@craigjedwards) March 29, 2018
- It was a pretty disappointing debut for the vaunted Cardinals outfield. Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, & Marcell Ozuna went a combined 0-12 with 8 K’s.
- Mound visits can be annoying. Announcers talking about the new Mound Visit Rule is going to be worse.
The Cardinals get to dwell on this defeat tomorrow, then resume their series with the Mets on Saturday at 12:10pm CST, which can be viewed on FSMW or MLB Network, if out-of-market.