|Jeff McNeil at-bat in the bottom of the first with Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso on base. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets beat the Cardinals, 7-6, on a two-run home run by Pete Alonso in the 10th inning on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. The Mets took three of four in this pivotal early series to improve to 26-14 on the season.
SCHERZER: The big news of the afternoon - concerning the results of Max Scherzer's MRI after he pulled himself from Wednesday's game - was announced over the press box public address system during the top of the fourth inning at 2:35 p.m.
Scherzer has a "moderate to high internal oblique strain" and the "general timeline for an injury of this nature is 6-8 weeks," as they termed it in the press release accompanying the announcement.
For a team that already has conditioned itself to not having Jacob deGrom this season, and possibly into July, this is a bitter pill to swallow.
Scherzer has a record of 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA in his first season with the Mets after he signed a three-year/$130 million contract.
SERIES FINALE: The Mets once again got out to an early lead in the bottom of the first, and it was an inning that was the epitome of what their offense has become.
Brnaond Nimmo got it started against St. Louis starter Dakota Hudson with a single, and then he took second base on a Mark Canha groundout, and third on a wild pitch while Francisco Lindor was up.
Lindor wound up drawing a walk, giving them two on for Pete Alonso. St. Louis still elected to have the shift on against the Mets' slugger, and he made them pay by hitting a grounder through the empty right side to bring Nimmo home and make it 1-0.
Jeff McNeil was up next, and while he was at-bat, Lindor and Alonso executed a double steal. Since there was only one out, and they took the double play away, St. Louis moved the infield in. McNeil hit one through the middle off the mound, and Cards shortstop Brandon Donovan fielded it and fired to home plate, but the throw was toward the first-base side, and Lindor easily slid past the tag of catcher Andrew Knizner to make it 2-0 Mets.
Eduardo Escobar was up next, and he lined one to third base, where Nolan Arenado, who was alreay guarding the line, made the catch and stepped on the bag to double off Alonso.
It didn't take the Cardinals long to get back into it, as Juan Yepez led off the second inning with a home run, and Paul Goldschmist hit a moonshot for a solo homer with two outs in the third to tie it at 2.
St. Louis took a 3-2 lead in the fifth when Tommy Edman doubled and came in to score on a Goldschmidt double.
The Mets came right back in the bottom of the fifth with one of their trademark innings.
Luis Guillorme led off with a double, and then he moved to rhid on a bunt from Tomas Nido, and Nimmo brought him home with a ground out to first base.
Canha followed with a single to keep the inning going, and that would knock out Hudson.
Nick Wittgren came out of the Cardinal bullpen, and Lindor singled, Alonso drew a walk, and McNeil brought them home with a two-run single that made it 5-3 Mets. Escobar lined to short to end the inning.
Hudson's final line was: 4 2/3 innings pitched, 5 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts.
Bassitt pitched into the seventh for the Mets, leaving after he gave up a one-out walk to Edman and a single to Donovan.
The right-hander's final line was: 6 1/3 innings, 9 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 1 walk, 3 strikeouts.
Drew Smith came on to face Goldschmist, and he hit one down the line in left field that McNeil had a beat on and leaped up to grab along the railing, and then kept his awareness about the situation at hand, fired into the infield to throw out Donovan for the double play to end the inning. Edman raced home before that out was recorded, so his run counts and St. Louis was within 5-4.
In the eighth, McNeil did it again, as he dove to snag a dying quail hit by Yepez with one one and one out. Those were two sterling plays by a player who has grown exponentially handling left field, and no exaggeration to say that the one in the seventh was the defensive play of the year so far.
Smith then got Albert Pujols to hit a routine fly ball to left to end the eighth, and Edwin Diaz came on to close it out in the ninth. Harrison Bader led off with a single, then stole second, and after Yadier Molina grounded out and Edman struck out, Donovan kept the inning alive with a two-out single. Godlschmidt then hit one to third that should have ended the game, but Escobar made his second error of the day, which allowed Bader to race home and tie the game. Goldschmit was credited with a hit, just as Donovan was way back in the first when Escobar made a miscue.
In the 10th, St. Louis took the lead against Colin Holderman when "ghost runner" Corey Dickerson came home on a double play hit into by Pujols.
That rule helped the Mets in the bottom of the 10th when Alonso led off the inning, and with Lindor at second (because he made the last out of the ninth, he blasted a two-run homer to give the Mets the 7-6 win. Yes, a "leadoff two-run homer." This was the Polar Bear's 10th dinger of the year, to go along with three RBIs on the day to give him 36 on the season.
The Mets closed out the homestand with a 4-3 record, and on a high as they head to Colorado and San Francisco for a six-game road trip that opens Friday night.