If pitching is your thing, then seven-and-a-half out of nine innings were pure delight for you. Adam Wainwright squared off against Zack Wheeler and they matched each other pitch-for-pitch, until they didn’t.
Wainwright started shakily, walking leadoff man Michael Conforto on five pitches and hitting Asdrubal Cabrera on the shin, but the Mets couldn’t cash the runners in. Wheeler absolutely cruised through four innings, the first chink in his armor appearing when he walked three straight Cards with two out in the fifth. He escaped damage when Jedd Gyorko hit a sizzling liner that Cabrera picked, inches off the dirt. The bottom of the fifth started 0-0, but Michael Conforto led off with a bomb into the Mets’ bullpen and Wainwright got the next three hitters easily.
The wheels fell off in the sixth, though. Yadier Molina hit a dribbler just past the mound on which Jose Reyes couldn’t make the barehanded play. New tormentor Paul DeJong then hit his requisite homer to the same spot as Conforto’s and the Cardinals led it 2-1. Kolton Wong followed with single to center. Rookie speedster Magneuris Sierra dropped a too-hard bunt, forcing Wong at second. Wainwright then launched a double into the gap in right center and if you blinked, you missed Sierra streaking around the bases to widen the lead to 3-1. That was it for Wheeler. Josh Edgin was brought on to face the lefty Matt Carpenter. Edgin started him off 0-2, but lost the plate and Carpenter walked. Manager Terry Collins wasted no time in waving in Hansel Robles, newly arrived from Las Vegas. Robles’s second pitch back in the majors was deposited into the second deck in left field by Tommy Pham. Finally, Robles was able to retire the final two batters. There was some wackiness in the bottom half, too. After T. J. Rivera grounded out, Lucas Duda found the Mets bullpen and it was a 6-2 game. Reyes launched a line drive into the right centerfield gap and Sierra cuffed it around and then made a horrid throw to third to try and nail the runner. He missed everybody and Reyes chugged all the way around the bases for a Little League homer. Travis d’Arnaud then sent a shot to left center, into and out of the glove of Dexter Fowler. That’s three outfield errors on two hitters, if you’re scoring at home. Wilmer Flores pinch hit for Robles and grounded out, d’Arnaud moving over to third. Conforto then hit a bullet up the middle that was snagged in self-defense by relief pitcher Tyler Lyons and all that excitement was over.
The pitching took over again in the last third of the game. Paul Sewald pitched a clean seventh for the Mets and former Mets prospect Matt Bowman relieved Lyons and gave up a harmless single to Jay Bruce. Jerry Blevins blew through the eighth with no damage and Kevin Siegrist did him one better for St. Louis, striking out the side on 10 pitches. Erik Goeddel gave up singles to Fowler and Molina in the ninth, but held the Cards off the scoreboard. Curtis Granderson pinch hit for Goeddel in the bottom of the ninth and drew a leadoff walk. Brett Cecil was called in to face Conforto, who lined out to Sierra in right. Cabrera lined a base hit to left and Granderson crossed to third. That brought up sleeping giant Yoenis Cespedes as the tying run. He reached for an outside pitch on 3-0 and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
It’s Michael Wacha vs. Rafael Montero — God help us — tomorrow night.