|Max Scherzer firing a pitch to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets routed the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-4, on Wednesday night at Citi Field, as they scored nine runs off their bullpen. The Mets improved to 24-14 on the season, and maintain their comfortable lead in the National League East, up six games on Philadelphia.
The night was not without concern, as the Mets saw their ace Max Scherzer pull himself in the sixth inning, in the middle of an at-bat against Albert Pujols. After he threw a pitch, it didn't appear anything was wrong until he motioned to the dugout waving his hand under his chin and saying "I'm done." It was reported after the game that he had left side discomfort and will take an MRI on Wednesday.
Scherzer did earn the win to run his record to 5-1, with a 2.54 ERA, as he went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits and no walks, with four strikeouts.
The Mets jumped out to an early lead in this one against Cardinals starter Jordan Hicks. Brancon Nimmo walked, then Mark Canha singled, and with one out, Pete Alonso got hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Jeff McNeil delivered a hit into right field to bring home Nimmo and Canha to make it 2-0. The Mets couldn't add to it, as Hicks struck out Eduardo Escobar and Dom Smith to get out of further trouble.
St. Louis came right back against Scherzer in the second. Juan Yepez reached on an error by Escobar, and then after Corey Dickerson hit into a fielder's choice for the first out, Dylan Carlson doubled.
That brought Albert Pujols to the plate, and he was greeted by cheers from the crowd, which had a smattering of Cardinals fans, but I would imagine some Mets fans cheered, too. After sitting out Tuesday's doubleheader, Pujols was the designated hitter in this one, and he hit one the other way to right field to bring home Dickerson and Carlson and tie the game at 2.
|Legends facing off: Max Scherzer against Albert Pujols in the second inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Yadier Molina, the longtime Cardinals catcher who's retiring, followed with a single, but Edmundo Sosa then hit into a double play to end the inning. Sosa's hit went to Escobar at third base, and he touched the bag to get Pujols out, and then fired to first with plenty of time to nab Sosa.
In the third inning, the beanball war that started in St. Louis a few weeks ago reared its ugly head. Alonso had gotten hit by a pitch that was on the inside part of the plate, so that began it mildly, but then Sherzer hit Brendan Donovan to open the top of the third, and then when Canha was hit by a pitch up and in to open the bottom half of the third, that brought a warning to both benches.
Francisco Lindor drew a walk after the Canha HBP, giving them two on and nobody out, but Hicks got Alonso and McNeil to both pop out to shortstop, and then Escobar struck out.
There was some history in the fourth inning, as Albert Pujols got a twi-out single, and it put him into 10th place on the all-time Major League Baseball hit list with 3,314.
Pujols followed that up with a much rarer feat, a steal of second, taking advantage of Scherzer paying no attention to him. Molina couldn't take advnatage, as he flew out to center field to end the inning.
Hicks went four innings for the Cardinals, as he allowed two runs on three hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. He went on to take the loss and fall to 1-4 on the season, with a 4.21 ERA.
First out of the Cardinal bullpen was Jake Walsh, and the Mets made quick work of him. Walsh walked Mark Canha before hitting Lindor with a pitch, which for some reason, with a warning issued, he stayed in the game (usually means an automatic ejection. Alonso followed with an RBI single to score Canha to make it 3-2, and McNeil followed with a single to load the bases.
That was all for Walsh, and Nick Wittgren was on next, but the Mets' hit parade continued. Escobar hit a sacrifice fly to score Lindor, then Smith had an RBI single to bring in Alonso, and Luis Guillorme hit a sacrifice bunt to bring in McNeil and make it 6-2 Mets.
In the top of the sixth, Scherzer allowed a single to Arenado and then he was erased when Yepez hit into a force out, and that was followed by a Dickerson strikeout and a Carlson single.
Pujols was up next, and that was when Scherzer pulled himself from the game, so Adam Ottavino came on to finish the at-bat and strike out the future Hall of Famer. Ottavino then pitched a perfect seventh inning.
Seth Lugo came on for the Mets in the eighth, and he allowed a Paul Golschmidt single before Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer to pull the Cardinals within two, at 6-4. Carlson got a two-out single to bring the tying run to the plate, and it was Pujols, who grounded out to third to end the rally.
T.J. McFarland was on for St. Louis in the eighth, and the Mets got some insurance, to say the least. Nimmo got an RBI triple, and came in to score on a Canha RBI single, and then the big blow came from Pete Alonso, who hit a three-run homer to make it 11-4 Mets. Alonso now has nine home runs and 33 RBI on the season.
The Mets have now won two of the the first three games of this pivotal early four-game series, and will send Chris Bassitt to the mound on Thursday afternoon looking to win the series and sent another statement to the National League.