After splitting their old fashion double header on Tuesday, the Mets and Cardinals squared off in the rubber match of their three-game set. Logan Verrett took the mound for the Mets opposite a resurgent Adam Wainwright, who has been fantastic after some early season struggles. Wilmer Flores started at third for the injured Jose Reyes, Neil Walker started at second, and the Michael Conforto experiment in center field continued for the Mets.
The Mets had Wainwright in hot water early and often, but he was able to duck and weave for most of the game. Asdrubal Cabrera had the Mets’ first hit, lining a single off the wall in the first, but was thrown out trying to stretch for second. In the second, James Loney lead off with a double and scored on a single from Walker to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Flores followed with a single to put runners at first and second with none out, but Conforto flew out and Travis d’Arnaud grounded into a double play to end the threat. (Mets with RISP: 1-for-3).
The lead was short lived, as the Cardinals rallied back in the top of the third. Verrett walked Wainwright to start the inning, then allowed a one out single to Aledmys Diaz. Stephen Piscotty struck out to put Verrett one out away from escaping, but Matts Holliday and Adams lined back-to-back doubles down the right field line to score three runs and give the Cardinals the lead.
The next four innings looked very typical to last two months of Mets baseball. The Mets put runners on first and second with one out in the fourth, but Flores grounded into a force out and Conforto was called out on strikes to end the inning and strand two (Mets with RISP: 1-for-5).
Travis d’Arnaud lead off the fifth with a single and reached second on a bunt, but Curtis Granderson grounded out and Cabrera struck out to strand another runner (Mets with RISP: 1-for-7). In the sixth, Yoenis Cespedes singled and Walker walked with one out, but Flores and Conforto failed to drive a run in yet again (Mets with RISP: 1-for-9).
Meanwhile, Verrett was doing a fantastic job holding the Cardinals at bay. He tossed seven innings of three-run ball, walking three and allowing five hits while striking out seven. Three of those hits and all three runs came in that rough third inning. Verrett was fantastic otherwise. He finished his night with a clean seventh inning, but exited in line for an unearned loss.
The Mets again threatened against Wainwright in the seventh, putting runners on first and third with none out after a pair of singles from d’Arnaud and Alejandro de Aza. To the dismay of Mets fans everywhere, futility with RISP persisted. Granderson struck out on a curveball in the dirt; Cabrera did the same (Mets with RISP: 1-for-11). That brought Cespedes to the plate.
Mike Matheny made the curious decision to leave Wainwright in to face Cespedes, even though he had already thrown 108 pitches. That decision would prove costly. First, Wainwright uncorked a wild pitch that scored d’Arnaud from third and moved de Aza to second. Then, after Cespedes fouled off three pitches on 3-2, Wainright finally hung a breaking ball that Cespedes bounced off the facing of the second deck in left field, giving the Mets a 4-3 lead. It was the first homer allowed by Wainwright since May 28 (longest homerless streak in the majors at 60.2 innings), and Cespedes’s first home run since July 5.
With Verrett now in line for a win, Addison Reed entered to protect a one run lead. Reed continued his dominance, striking out one as he put down the Cardinals in order in the top of the eighth. Jeurys Familia and his 52 save streak, the third longest in baseball history, entered for the ninth. He promptly retired Matt Adams on a fly ball to left, but then walked Jedd Gyorko on four pitches before surrendering a double to Mets nemesis Yadier Molina. Pinch runner Randal Grichuk scored from first. It tied the game and ended Familia’s save streak.
Familia got the next out by catching Molina trying for third on a weak comebacker from Jeremy Hazelbaker (assist to Flores for digging out a low throw from Familia). The Cardinals wouldn’t go away though, as Hazelbaker stole second, then scored on a double down the left field line by Kolten Wong. Diaz struck out to end the inning, but a one run lead had turned into a one run deficit.
The Mets stood little chance against Cardinals closer Seung-Hwan Oh. The final boss put the Mets down in order, inducing a fly out from de Aza, striking out Lagares, and inducing another fly out from Cabrera to end the game.
Miami and Washington both won, so the Mets dropped to 5.5 back of first and a 1.5 back of second in the division. They are also behind the Dodgers, Marlins, and Cardinals in the wild card standings, 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot.
Next up, the Rockies visit for four games. Jacob deGrom gets the ball in the afternoon opener, start time 1:10 ET.
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