The Cardinals had this game all wrapped up.... until they didn’t.
After starting pitching dominated the first seven innings, Tyler O’Neill’s bases loaded, two-run single in the eighth broke a scoreless tie and set the Cardinals up for their tenth win of the season. But, down to their final strike, the Mets took advantage of Nolan Arenado’s throwing error and tacked on four more runs after that, shocking the home crowd and beating the Cardinals, 5-2, in the first game of this three-game series.
Mikolas was spectacular, allowing just four hits over seven scoreless innings. His season ERA now sits at a shiny 1.21 with a 0.94 WHIP. Paul Goldschmidt collected two more hits tonight after racking up seven over the weekend series with the Reds.
Mikolas was able to work through the top of the first inning on just 12 pitches. Brandon Nimmo struck out swinging on a 95 mph fastball at the top of the zone, Starling Marte hit a rocket directly at Nolan Arenado (which he caught), and Francisco Lindor popped out to Tommy Edman in shallow right field.
After Edman and Paul Goldschmidt both popped out in foul territory to start the game, Tyler O’Neill chopped a soft ground ball to Eduardo Escobar at third. Escobar’s throw pulled Pete Alonso off the bag, and O’Neill avoided the tag. Although it was a close play and could’ve been ruled either way, the official scorer ultimately ruled it an E5. He was stranded there, however, as Arenado flew out to right field to end the inning.
Mikolas got Pete Alonso to pop out to Goldy in foul territory to lead off the second, but Escobar then blooped a single into center field juuusssst in front of Harrison Bader for the Mets’ first hit of the game. Bader busted his you-know-what getting to it, but the ball caromed off the webbing of his glove on a full frontward dive. He was able to get it back in quickly and hold Escobar to a single. Robinson Cano (sometimes I forget he’s still around) then grounded into a 3-6 fielder’s choice, with Goldy picking it at first and firing to Sosa at second. It appeared Sosa’s throw back may have beaten Cano, but he was ruled safe at first. The Cardinals did not challenge.
Mikolas plunked Mark Canha on the very next pitch, giving the Mets runners on first and second with two outs. But Jeff McNeil killed the rally with a strikeout to end the Mets’ inning.
Max Scherzer struck out Dylan Carlson, Corey Dickerson, and Sosa in order in the bottom of the second on 11 pitches.
Tomas Nido struck out swinging on another high fastball to kick off the third inning — Mikolas’ third of the night. Nimmo then grounded out to Edman at second base, and Marte hit a deep fly ball to right field that Carlson tracked down just short of the warning track to end the inning.
Yadier continued to struggle early in this one, popping out weakly to Alonso at first to begin the inning. Bader then popped out to McNeil for the second out, but then the Cardinals cooked up a little something with two outs. Edman worked the count full against Scherzer before drawing a walk, and Goldschmidt ripped the first pitch he saw into left for a single — his eighth hit in the last four games. But O’Neill struck out swinging on a 97 mph fastball at the top of the zone to end the third inning.
Lindor led off the fourth inning and flew out to Bader in center, and then Alonso muscled an 0-2, high and tight fastball into center field for a base hit. Escobar then hit a weak grounder to Edman at second, who did not have time to twist the double play and instead just went to first — allowing Alonso to move into scoring position. Cano then hit a high popup on the infield. Mikolas called off all the infielders and made the catch himself on the mound, ending the Metropolitans’ threat in the fourth.
Arenado grounded out to Lindor at short to begin the Cards’ half of the fourth. Dickerson then flew out to Marte in right for the second out, and Scherzer tied Carlson into a pretzel with a nasty cutter on the hands to register his fifth strikeout of the game.
Through four innings, the two teams combined for three hits and eight strikeouts.
Canha grounded out to Sosa at short to begin the inning before McNeil roped a double down the left field line with one out. But Nido struck out again — his second punchy of the game — and Nimmo flew out to Bader in fairly deep right-center field to end the inning.
Scherzer continued to do Scherzer things in the fifth, punching out Sosa for the second time and Molina for the first time on seven total pitches for two quick outs. Bader then hit a swinging bunt between the mount and home plate, which Nido jumped on before throwing him out at first to end the fifth inning.
Mikolas worked around a two-out single from Alonso to complete six innings for the second time this season. Before Alonso’s single, Marte grounded out to Nolan at third and Lindor hit a shallow fly ball to right field that Edman was able to drift back and catch. But Escobar grounded out to Edman at second immediately after, killing the threat and retiring the Mets in the sixth.
Edman struck out on three pitches to lead off the Cardinals’ half of the sixth. Goldy then hit an 0-2 slider to shortstop, but Lindor backed off it and allowed McNeil to attempt the play — who was shifted way over to the left. McNeil fielded it in shallow left field and didn’t even attempt a throw, causing the guys in the broadcast booth to question if perhaps Lindor should have charged it himself and tried to throw out Goldschmidt. It was his second — and the Cardinals’ second — hit of the game.
O’Neill then struck out looking on a slider at the bottom of the zone — his second punchout of the game. Nolan then fouled off several Scherzer fastballs before eventually popping out to McNeil in shallow right field to end the sixth.
Through six innings, the Cardinals had two hits and nine strikeouts against Scherzer. The Mets mustered four hits off Mikolas through six but also were not able to score.
Cano grounded out 6-3 leading off the seventh with Mikolas still on the mound. Canha then worked a seven-pitch walk. McNeil flew out to straightaway center field, and Canha had to retreat to first base. Nido then worked a full count against the Lizard King, but he flailed and missed at a knee-buckling slider at the bottom of the zone to end the Mets’ half of the seventh.
Mikolas pitched seven shutout innings, and has now gone 12 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
Mikolas’ final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 5 K’s (95 pitches)
Dickerson and Carlson both grounded out to start the inning — Dickerson to third, and Carlson to second. Sosa then struck out for the third time tonight, and the second consecutive time on just three pitches. He was (at the time) 1-10 over his last 10 at bats with 6 strikeouts.
Scherzer’s final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 10 K’s (101 pitches)
Genesis Cabrera was called on in the eighth after Mikolas kept the Mets scoreless through seven innings. He last pitched Friday night against the Reds during the Cardinals’ 4-2 win.
Nimmo led off the eighth with a deep fly ball to left field that drove O’Neill back to the warning track, but no damage was done. Cabrera then struck out Marte on an 0-2 changeup that caused Marte to completely lose his bat in the process, accidentally losing his grip and tossing it towards the Mets’ dugout. Lindor then popped out to Arenado at third on a high fastball to end the top of the eighth for New York.
Trevor May took the mound in the eighth in relief of Scherzer, who — like Mikolas — went seven shutout innings. He was greeted immediately with back-to-back singles from Molina and Bader to start the inning. Newly-promoted utility man Brendan Donovan pinch ran for Molina, whose base hit was just his third in his last 17 at-bats.
Edman then hit a chopper back up the middle that was bound to be a double play.....had May not stabbed at it and slowed it down. He jumped and touched it, which made a double play impossible for Lindor. The Mets’ shortstop threw over to first, and the 6-3 groundout acted as a sacrifice bunt for all intents and purposes. Goldschmidt worked the count full and then walked, setting up a bases loaded situation for O’Neill....
....who promptly smacked an 0-1 changeup from May into left field, scoring both Donovan and Bader and giving the redbirds a 2-0 lead. Arenado then struck out swinging and Dickerson flew out to Marte in right field, stranding two on base to end the inning.
Giovanny Gallegos was called on to save his fifth game of the season. Alonso flew out to Bader in center field on the first pitch he saw. Escobar then stroked a 1-1 fastball up the middle for a single, bringing the tying run to the plate in Cano. Cano hit a deep fly ball to left field that O’Neill was able to track down in foul territory up against the left field wall for the second out.
Canha then grounded a 3-2 slider from Gallegos to third for the potential final out of the game, but Arenado’s throw across the diamond sailed well over the head of Goldschmidt. Escobar scored, Canha stayed at first, and the Mets cut the deficit to 2-1. McNeil followed up the Arenado error with a double to right field, moving the pinch-runner Travis Jankowski to third.
The Mets called on Dominic Smith to pinch-hit for Nido, who was 0-3 with three strikeouts. After working a 1-1 count, Smith hit a sharp ground ball down the first base line. Goldschmidt dove out and snagged it, but Gallegos did not break for first base quickly enough, allowing Smith to reach first. And not only did Jankowski score the tying run, Mcneil hustled around from second base and scored when Gallegos failed to turn around and look at home.
T.J. McFarland was called on to keep the deficit at one run, but Nimmo hammered the very first pitch he saw into the right field seats, making it 5-2 Mets. Marte was called out on strikes to end the inning, but the Mets had already scored five runs to shock the home crowd.
New York called on Edwin Diaz to preserve the three-run lead in the ninth inning, and he did just that. Knizner worked a walk, but other than that St. Louis went quietly in the ninth en route to a 5-2 loss.
The Cardinals (9-6) will look to tie up the series tomorrow night against the Mets (13-5) at Busch Stadium. Jordan Hicks (1-1, 1.29 ERA) will make his second career start after going three innings last week against Marlins. Opposing him will be eight-year vet Chris Bassitt (2-1, 3.00 ERA), who’s been a very reliable pickup for the Mets this season. First pitch is once again set for 6:45 p.m.
Around the Central
Giants 4, Brewers 2 - Corbin Burnes pitched a gem, but the Brewers’ bullpen gave up four late runs to choke it away.
Five tries today. Not my best work.
WARdle #47 - 5/9