Zack Wheeler made a nice bounce back start but got no support from his lineup or bullpen as the Mets dropped the second game of the series 4-1 in St. Louis .
Wheeler allowed two runs in six innings and though he scattered eight hits, he only walked one and struck out five and got some big outs when it mattered. He effectively mixed every pitch in his repertoire to help end inning after inning with runners stranded on the bases. His counterpart, Adam Wainwright, baffled the Mets with slow curves and inside cutters, pitching like the wily veteran he is. The Mets couldn’t touch him until the seventh inning when Jay Bruce hit his 23rd home run off a hanging curve, and T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes followed with base hits. Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny wisely went to his solid bullpen who were able to shut the Mets down for the last two and a third innings.
And there in lies the difference. While Matheny gets to call on reliable arms, Terry Collins has a stable of washed up pitchers with ERAs over six waiting for the call. Down just 2-1 in the seventh, Collins first summoned Fernando Salas, who brought his trusty can of kerosene with him. The struggling righty couldn’t complete an inning without allowing two hits and two walks. Amazingly he only allowed one run as Erik Goeddel came in and struck out Yadier Molina with the bases loaded to end the inning. Rafael Montero was next to exit the clown car in the eighth inning and he too gave up a run without being able to complete an inning. Collins next tried Josh Edgin, but he issued a walk to the one batter he faced, so he turned it over to the never reliable Neil Ramirez, who actually struck out a batter to end the inning. Fortunately, the Cardinals didn’t need the bottom of the ninth or Collins could have asked a hot dog vendor to pitch.
The bullpen doesn’t deserve all the blame though. While Bruce, Reyes and Rivera combined for seven hits, the rest of the lineup went…wait for it…0 for 27 with no walks. What a pitiful showing. Yoenis Cespedes continues to be mired in an awful slump, hitting under .188 in his last 15 games.
Tomorrow the Mets close out the series and the disappointing first half of the season with the red hot Steven Matz opposing the righty Lance Lynn. Sure would be nice if we could enter the All-Star break on an up note with a series win. Come on, Mets.