The Mets needed this. They needed a laugher and tonight, they got one…mostly. A flurry of singles and doubles in the first two innings gave the Mets all the runs they would need in a 7-3 pasting of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The game started inauspiciously as Jacob deGrom was forced to expend 13 pitches on leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter before getting him on a fly ball to right. In all, it took deGrom 24 pitches to navigate a shutout first inning and he never looked comfortable in all of his six-and-two-thirds on this night. However, he exited in far better shape than his counterpart, Mike Leake. After Michael Conforto popped out to third to start the bottom of the first, Asdrubal Cabrera pulled a single into right field. He moved to second, hustling on a long fly to center off the bat of Jay Bruce. He scored when Yoenis Cespedes banged a base hit though shortstop. Lucas Duda hit a booming double to the opposite field and Cespedes sprinted home with New York’s second run. Wilmer Flores lined a base hit up the middle to score Duda and the Mets were off and running. deGrom got the Cards 1-2-3 in the second, then led off the bottom half by hitting a hard liner to right. Conforto pulled a ground single there. Cabrera grounded to third, but Jedd Gyorko threw the ball into right center on a force attempt and suddenly, the Mets had first-and-third. Bruce then knocked a single into right, chasing Conforto home. Cespedes then hit a shot into left that looked for all the world as if it were going out, but the humidity caused the ball to loop downward off the base of the fence. Cabrera scored and Cespedes had a double, but even that caused consternation in the Mets’ dugout and in the stands because he seemed to come up limping…again. After conferring with trainer Ray Ramirez and manager Terry Collins, the newly blue-haired Cespedes remained in the game. Cespedes looked just fine — after Duda was intentionally passed and Flores flied out — sprinting home on a line drive to center by Jose Reyes, followed closely by Bruce. That made the score 7-0 and made for a short night for Leake, whose night ended with that second inning.
After all that, the game continued apace, with deGrom gutting it out into the seventh. After getting Kolten Wong on a grounder, deGrom gave up a single to the rookie Magneuris Sierra and got pinch hitter Greg Garcia on a force. Luke Voit — replacing Carpenter with a rout on — launched a double past Cespedes and the Cards were on the board. That was it for deGrom, having thrown 110 pitches at that point. Paul Sewald came on to strike out Tommy Pham. In the eighth, things got interesting, and not in a good way for the Mets.
Sewald walked Jose Martinez to lead it off. He got Gyorko on a fly ball to Bruce, but then walked Eric Fryer. The dangerous Paul DeJong struck out. With a lefty coming up — and wanting to save Sewald for possible duty in tomorrow’s day game — Collins waved in Jerry Blevins to face the lefty-hitting Wong. Wong pulled a single to Bruce, loading the bases. Sierra hit a liner up the middle to score two. Adam Wainwright pinch hit (!!!) and drew an eight-pitch walk, bringing up Voit as the tying run. Collins would have none of that nonsense, calling in Addison Reed to shut it down and get the four-out save. He did that masterfully, striking out Voit and giving up only a harmless single in the ninth.
A camp day special tomorrow, a 12:10 start. Seth Lugo will be opposed by Lance Lynn.