|Jacob deGrom pitching on Thursday night.|
The Mets appeared to be on their way to a victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field on Thursday night, but the redbirds scored two in the ninth to tie it at 4 before the game was suspended due to rain.
They will pick it up on Friday night at 6 p.m. in the bottom of the ninth inning before the regularly scheduled game.
This is the opener of a pivotal four-game series for two teams who entered the season with high hopes, but are hanging around .500 (the Mets at 33-34 and St. Louis at 33-33) in mid-June. Each team is in third place in their divisions - the Mets in the National League East behind Atlanta and Philadelphia, and St. Louis behind Milwaukee and the Cubs - and each is looking to make a move.
Jacob deGrom took the mound for the Mets on Thusday night seeking his fifth straight quality start, as he continues to put his slow start in the rearview mirror.
deGrom delivered, as he threw seven innings, allowing just two runs on six hits and no walks, with eight strikeouts on 116 pitches, but he ended up with a no decision.
"I felt like I threw the ball well," deGrom said of his outing. "I felt like I had command of all four pitches and was able to throw them when I wanted to."
Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said, "He pitched a heck of a game, he pitched one of his best games all year."
deGrom retired the Cardinals in order in the first two innings, including striking out the side in the second.
In the third, Harrison Bader got a one-out double and stole third base. deGrom struck out the pitcher, Jack Flaherty, for the second out.
Cardinals leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter was up next, and he hit what looked to be a routine groundball to shortstop, but the shift was one, meaning Mets third baseman Todd Frazier was the only one on the left side of the infield.
Carpenter was safe and Bader scored to make it 1-0 St. Louis, and deGrom was frustrated. He said of that tough play, "He battled me and got to 3-2 and you make a pitch and you feel like it's an out and you look back and no one was there, and you get frustrated. I think anybody would be - the goal is not to give up runs and you feel like you make a pitch and it finds a hole, it's frustrating."
On if he was aware the shift was on, deGrom said, "I honestly don't look back that much at where the infielders are. I think that was part of the frustration because I thought I was out of the inning...He does not hit the ball there very often. I think it's been a year honestly since he's hit a ground ball to short, so I think that's the mindset behind it. That goes to why I was frustrated. I felt like I made a pitch and I beat him, it just went where nobody was at."
deGrom got Paul DeJong to also hit a grounder to the left side, but this time, the Mets infield was at normal depth, and Frazier recorded the force out to end the inning.
When deGrom returned to the dugout, he could be seen throwing his glove against the wall, still frustrated about that Carpenter hit.
Callaway said of that, "I think he was a little frustrated that (Hader) stole third and then he scores on an infield single that didn't get out of the infield...You let him blow off steam, guys get pissed all the time and I don't blame them. It's tough when you give up a run and the ball doesn't leave the infield. We just need to keep him at second somehow, you know, we need to do a better job at that, because that's the bottom line - if he's not at third, then he doesn't score because the ball didn't get to the outfield. I understand his frustration."
In the bottom of the third, the Mets got a two-out rally going as Jeff McNeil singled and Michael Conforto followed with a two-run home run to right-center field to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Pete Alonso followed with a single, and Dominic Smith then rocked one to center field, but Bader caught it in front of the fence, as he came up short of a two-run homer of his own.
deGrom worked around a singles from Marcell Ozuna in the fourth and Hader in the fifth, but in the sixth, St. Louis tied it at 2 on a solo home run to center from DeJong.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Mets rallied, as Alonso hit a ground-rule double down the left field line and came home to score on a single from Smith to make it 3-2.
Frazier followed with a single, and Smith hustled and went first-to-third on the hit to give the Mets runners at the corners with one out. Ramos then walked to load the bases, and that was it for Flaherty.
With Giovanny Gallegos (who was one of the Yankees traded for Luke Voit) on for St. Louis, Amed Rosario hit a rocket to center, which Bader made a leaping catch on. If it landed, it would have cleared the bases, but it was still good enough for a sacrifice fly to score Smith and make it 4-2 Mets.
Frasier tagged up to try to get to third base. Hader's throw was wide of the bag, but Carpenter recovered to throw it to a trailing Kolten Wong to nail Frasier and end the inning on a wild note and keep the Mets from breaking it open.
In the seventh, deGrom worked around a one-out single for Yadier Molina and ended the inning with a fastball down and away on his 116th and final pitch of the night to strike out Bader.
Gallegos stayed on for St. Louis and struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh.
Seth Lugo came on for the Mets in the eighth, and he got pinch-hitter Dexter Fowler to ground out to first before hitting Matt Carpenter with a pitch. DeJong then flew out to center for the second out, and Paul Goldschmidt struck out after quite a long battle.
Andrew Miller came on for St. Louis in the eighth and struck out the side, the second straight inning that happened to the Mets.
It got a little wild after the eighth as the rain kept coming down. The Mets grounds crew brought out plenty of drying agent, but after it wasn't working, the umpires called for the tarp. By the time it came out, the rain had dissipated, so back it went.
|The scene before the top of the ninth as the tarp was being rolled back and efforts to work on the infield continued. Photo by Jason Schott.|
That still produced what was officially a nine-minute delay, and kind of iced Mets closer Edwin Diaz. This was shown by how he couldn't find the plate against the first batter he faced in the ninth, Ozuna, who drew a walk.
Diaz then settled down and got Jose Martinez to ground out and Molina to strike out.
Kolten Wong followed with an RBI single off the fence in left, and he came around on a Bader hit into the left field corner to tie it at 4. Bader was then thrown out trying to reach second base on the hit.
Callaway said of how the umpires handled the ninth inning, "They did all they could. Obviously, they were about to tarp because it was coming down hard and it lightened up. They're trying to get a game in; that's their responsibility, and I think they did everything they could."
On if the nine-minute delay affected Diaz, "That's tough, there's no doubt about it. You're ready to come in and start getting some outs, and then you have to sit around for nine minutes, and then, just overall conditions were tough for both teams right there, how wet it was, obviously, guys slipping, but we both had to play through it and the good thing is the game's not over yet."
Callaway then was asked if Diaz could have remained in the bullpen until the field was ready, and he said, "Yeah, I mean, he could have gone back down to the bullpen and throw if he wanted to, whatever we wanted to do."
Before the bottom of the ninth started, they tried to fix the field with the drying agent once again, but when it looked to be futile,the tarp came out at 10:04 and the game was suspended for the night 45 minutes later.