The Cardinals came into Wednesday in sole possession of the second NL Wild Card spot and looking for a sweep of the Mets after Tuesday’s dramatic 11-inning victory. Jon Lester started across from Tylor Megill, and while neither pitcher threw as well as he probably would have liked, Lester only gave up three runs in six innings while Megill was run out of the game after surrendering six runs in three frames. However, the bullpen performances were very different, as the Redbirds added six runs over the last six innings in an offensive onslaught against Mets relievers. Inversely, the Cards’ bullpen, though it definitely looked shaky at some points, only gave up one additional run en route to an 11-4 blowout that gave the Cardinals the sweep.
Tommy Edman, hitting lefty, walked on four pitches to lead off the game. Paul Goldschmidt got a 1-1 changeup in the middle of the zone and ripped it down the left field line for a double, putting runners on second and third. Tyler O’Neill pulled the trigger on a 3-0 fastball and tore it into the left-center gap, scoring both runners on an RBI double to give the Cards a 2-0 lead. Nolan Arenado drew another walk as Megill still struggled to find the strike zone. Yadier Molina grounded into a 6-4-3 double play for the first two outs of the inning. Dylan Carlson followed with a single, scoring O’Neill from third to make it 3-0. Edmundo Sosa hit a single of his own to right field, putting runners at the corners with two away. Harrison Bader reached off of the plate at an 0-2 slider and dropped a pop fly into shallow center for a third Cardinals hit in a row with two strikes, scoring Carlson and Sosa (who was hauling it from first on the pitch) to extend the Cards’ lead to 5-0. Bader went to second on the throw but was stranded there after Lester swung through a 2-2 fastball for the last out.
Jonathan Villar topped an 0-1 changeup on the outside corner to third for the first out. Francisco Lindor chased an elevated fastball, striking out for out number two. Javier Baez popped out to Goldschmidt, putting the Mets down in order.
Edman struck out swinging at a 2-2 changeup that was in on the hands. Goldschmidt got a 1-2 fastball at the top of the zone and grounded it to third for out number two. O’Neill was rung up on a 1-2 slider that was generously called a strike off the outside corner.
Pete Alonso got a 2-1 fastball that caught a lot of the plate and hit a no-doubter to left, closing the Mets’ deficit to 5-1.
Michael Conforto was called out on a borderline changeup at the knees for strike three. Kevin Pillar topped a 2-2 changeup to third for the second out. James McCann jumped on a first-pitch cutter and flew it to shallow left, where Sosa overran it and reached back over his head to make a phenomenal recovery and catch.
Arenado opened the third with a flyout to center. Yadi ripped a low slider straight at Villar, but the ball kicked off the heel of his glove, allowing Yadi to reach on an infield single (yes, you read that correctly). Carlson followed with a loud flyout to deep center. Sosa grounded a first-pitch fastball to short for a fielder’s choice and the final out.
Jeff McNeil doubled after popping a low sinker over Arenado, who failed to make the over-the-shoulder catch while ranging straight back. Megill struck out on four pitches after trying to bunt McNeil to third. Villar flew out to Edman in shallow right. Lindor hit an 0-1 changeup on the ground to Sosa, who booted the routine play and allowed McNeil to score from second to make it 5-2. Baez popped out to right to close the frame.
Bader tattoed a 2-2 slider over the heart of the plate into the seats in left for a leadoff homer, stretching the Cards’ lead to 6-2.
Lester sat back on a 2-2 changeup and took it down the right field line for a standup double. Edman chopped a soft grounder to Baez, who threw the ball away. Lester, not advancing on the grounder, only got to third on the throw. The infield single ended Megill’s night as the Mets opted to bring in Miguel Castro. Castro’s first pitch went wild, and Lester, very obviously uncomfortable on the bases, failed to score again while Edman moved to second. Goldschmidt grounded out softly to the right side and Lester still didn’t move from third on the play. O’Neill then popped out to first and Arenado lined out to right, squandering an excellent scoring opportunity for the Cardinals.
Alonso struck out chasing a 3-2 fastball that was inside on the hands. Conforto singled to left on a first-pitch sinker. Pillar got under a curveball, popping it to second for the second out. McCann swung over a sinker on the outside corner, striking out to end the inning.
Yadi flew out to left on a 2-1 sinker. Carlson reached for an outside changeup and did the same. Sosa then grounded out, putting the Cards down quietly.
McNeil began the bottom of the frame with a single through the right side of the infield. J.D. Davis pinch hit for Castro and singled to center to put two on. Villar bunted back to Lester, who let Yadi field it and throw to first for the out. Lindor, with runners on second and third and one out, chased a changeup in the dirt for the second out. Baez drilled a changeup to the warning track in center, where Bader ran it down for the final out.
Brad Hand relieved Castro in the sixth for the Mets and retired Bader on a deflected 1-4-3 groundout. Lester hit for himself and went down looking at a pitch up and in. Edman grounded out to third as the Cards went down 1-2-3.
Alonso struck out chasing a fastball off the inside corner. Conforto swung at a first-pitch cutter and flew it to Bader for the second out. Pillar stung a high fastball into the seats in left, cutting the margin to 6-3. McCann worked a six-pitch at-bat but grounded out to short to retire the side.
Seth Lugo came in from the bullpen for New York and was welcomed with a home run from Goldschmidt, who put the Cards back up 7-3. O’Neill struck out looking a 2-2 sinker that was way off the plate for the first out. Arenado got a hanging curveball and hit a towering home run to left, giving the Redbirds an 8-3 lead. Molina then flew out to right and Carlson went down looking to send the game to the bottom of the seventh.
Andrew Miller replaced Lester in the bottom of the inning and gave up a triple to McNeil after the ball carommed awkwardly off the wall in right-center. Jose Peraza then scored him with a single to center, bringing the score to 8-4.
Villar followed with an infield single after Miller booted the play, putting two on with no outs. Lars Nootbaar then came in to play right as T.J. McFarland took the mound for St. Louis. Lindor lined out to Sosa just off second, who then dove to the bag to try to double up Peraza but was just late. Baez flew out to deep right, allowing Peraza to tag up to third. Alonso, with runners at the corners and two away, hit a bomb to right field that looked like a sure home run until Nootbaar robbed him of the three-run shot for the final out of the inning.
Heath Hembree took the mound for the Mets in the eighth and gave up a solo shot to Sosa, distancing the Cards again to 9-4.
Bader followed with a groundout to second. Nootbaar struck out for out number two. Edman doubled off the wall for a two-out double. Goldschmidt beat the shift, singling to score Edman to put the Redbirds up 10-4. O’Neill followed with yet another single to put two on. Arenado joined the singles party, scoring Goldschmidt as the Cards went up 11-4, ending Hembree’s evening on the mound. Jake Reed took the mound in relief and retired Yadi on a groundout to third.
Conforto grounded out to short to lead off the bottom of the inning. Pillar snuck a single through the left side. McCann followed with another one-out hit. McNeil grounded into a fielder’s choice, leaving runners at the corners with two outs after beating the throw to first. Dominic Smith pinch hit for Reed and flew out to left to end the Mets’ threat.
Matt Carpenter led off as a pinch hitter for the Cards to face Trevor May and grounded into the shift for the first out. Sosa worked a full count and drew a walk. Bader went down chasing a breaking ball below the zone. Nootbaar struck out on a fastball down the middle of the plate to retire the side.
Justin Miller came in to pitch the ninth for the Redbirds and struck out Villar with a 2-2 fastball. Lindor lined another fastball to right for a single. Baez followed suit, dropping a fastball into left filed. Alonso popped out to center for out number two. Conforto grounded out to short, securing the 11-4 win for the good guys.
The Cardinals improve to 76-69 on the season, and now sit 1.5 games ahead of Cincinnati and San Diego. The Pirates walked off on the Reds in a wild final play (shown below) and at the time of writing the Padres are beating the Giants 7-5 going into the ninth, meaning the Friars will likely be 1 game back of the Cards going into Thursday. The Cards will enjoy a well-earned day off on Thursday before returning to St. Louis on Friday for a three-game weekend set with the Padres.
Final Pitching Lines
Lester (W, 6-6): 6 IP / 6 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / 2 HR
Miller, A: 0 IP / 3 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
McFarland (H, 10): 2 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Miller: 1 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Megill (L, 3-5): 3 IP / 9 H / 6 R / 6 ER / 2 BB / 3 K / 1 HR
Castro: 2 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Hand: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Lugo: 1 IP / 2 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 2 HR
Hembree: 0.2 IP / 5 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 1 HR
Reed: 0.1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
May: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 2 K / 0 HR