I was looking forward to this one. Carlos Martinez vs. Noah Syndergaard, in the rubber game of a series between two good teams, in what actually seemed like it would be baseball weather. And it was a good game!
The game started not very well at all for Carlos. He hit leadoff batter Brandon Nimmo to open the affair — the first of three men he’d hit today; he’s already up to eight of those, which equals his 2017 total — and then Yoenis Cespedes promptly drilled a double down the left field line. With Nimmo running on the pitch, he scored easily to make it 1-0 Mets. Cespedes advanced on an out, meaning he was on third with just one out, but Carlos then got two straight pop-ups to escape further damage.
Then it was 1-0 for a long while, because Noah Syndergaard is great. The Cardinals didn’t get a baserunner until the 4th. They didn’t get a baserunner past first base until the 7th (both of those men were Tommy Pham, fresh off of a head laceration suffered while using a homemade “hitting contraption,” because of course they were). Syndergaard throws a 98 mph sinker and a 93 mph slider and a 90 mph changeup, and he generally throws them where he intends to, and that’s just how it goes with him sometimes.
The Mets, meanwhile, made it 2-0 in the top of the 7th with a single-single-sac fly sequence off of Dominic Leone. With Syndergaard dominating, things looked grim.
But: Pham, as I mentioned, finally got past first base in the bottom of that inning, via a leadoff double. Two batters later, Marcell Ozuna dropped a soft single into no-man’s-land in right, plating Pham and making it 2-1. A flyout and a Paul DeJong double later, it was second and third with two outs, with the lately-streaking Kolten Wong at the plate against a tiring Syndergaard. Wong took a good at-bat and ran the count to 3-2, then juuuuuust got under a good pitch to hit and skied out to center. So close to taking the lead, but they’d at least chipped away.
Fireman Bud Norris did his job and kept it tied in the top of the 8th. In the bottom of the 8th, Greg Garcia reached on an error to lead off. Syndergaard struck out Yadier Molina, but then Matt Carpenter singled to finally chase the Mets starter. That brought (of course) Pham up again, and he promptly (of course) tied the game up with a single off Robert Gsellman. Tie game, 2-2!
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The Cards had a good chance to take the lead with Jose Martinez and Ozuna due up, but alas, Martinez hit into a double play to end the threat.
Greg Holland pitched the top of the 9th for the Cards; nobody scored. Seth Lugo pitched the bottom for the Mets; nobody scored (though with two on and one out, the Cardinals had their shot).
I will admit that I had some trepidation when extras began. I have a day job and all, so I consumed this one almost entirely via sporadic peeks at GameDay, and in the 8th and 9th I kept checking in and expecting to see 3-2 Cards. Yet it kept not becoming 3-2 Cards. In circumstances such as these, natural pessimism takes hold and leads one (or at least leads me) to conclude that the Cardinals are frittering away a game they could have won.
After a scoreless top of the 10th, my fears felt justified. In the bottom of the inning, Jay Bruce singled through a non-shift (what why), and then Todd Frazier singled on a just-firm-enough liner up the middle, and then it was first and third with two outs and then Luke Gregerson walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases and now it’s 3-1 to Jose Lobaton who even is that and oh god they’re gonna lose and
he walked him
Well. 3-2 Mets. Matt Bowman got the next out to hold it at a one-run deficit, at least.
Jeurys Familia got the first two in the bottom of the 10th. Then Pham singled (of course) to keep hope alive. And then:
WOOOOOOOOOOO JOSE MARTINEZ 3-3 GAME
Just about got it out for the win, too. Ozuna had a chance for a game-winning hit, but didn’t come through. On to even more free baseball!
John Gant — up in the “in case of extras” role, which hey, extras! — took over in the 11th and got them through 13. Various Mets pitchers pitched during the bottom halves, what am I, a scorecard. Both teams were out of batters by the 12th. Relief pitchers were hitting, Yadi was catching a bunch on his day off, it was pandemonium.
In the bottom of the 13th, J. Martinez walked and Ozuna singled with one out, setting up Dexter Fowler to be the hero.
They made us sweat, but the Cardinals came up with a great 4-3 come-from-behind win.
- Good for Dex delivering a key hit there. Ever since his miserable four-game start to the year, he’s actually hit pretty well.
- Let’s be clear that Gregerson was the goat in the 10th. All he had to do is throw strikes to a bad hitter, and he couldn’t. That’s very bad, and it is on him and him alone. But also:
- Can the Cardinals please just shift like a normal team? I caught the video of Jay Bruce’s 10th inning single, and off the bat I thought good: right into the shift. But no, the shortstop was on the left field side of the bag, so it went through. If you’re not going to shift against Jay Bruce — one of the most heavily shifted batters in the game — when are you ever going to do it? If you’re not going to do it, what year are you managing in? I hate picking out a single managerial decision and saying “this nearly cost them the game,” but this one... kinda did? Will anybody learn from this very basic mistake? Will anybody be reprimanded, or even talked to? Is there any chance of that? End rant.
- Tommy Pham had four hits, and is the only good baseball player in the universe as far as I’m concerned.
- Gant got the win, and let’s not forget how nice it is to have a guy throw three scoreless relief innings.
- Jose Martinez is better than Anthony Rizzo.
WPA graph is a doozy: