Tuesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 7, Mets 6 (11 innings)
By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com
A loss by the Reds in Pittsburgh Tuesday night gave the Cardinals a chance to move into the second wild-card spot with a victory over the Mets.
They just didn’t know how wild the roller-coaster ride would be over the final four innings before they got there when the ride finally came to a halt.
The twists and turns started in the eighth inning, with the Cardinals losing 3-2 before Tyler O’Neill launched a long two-run homer over the center field wall, at the time seeming to earn him a place on the list of dramatic homers hit by the Cardinals in their history in New York.
A big dip was just around the next turn, however, as Javier Baez hit the first pitch from Giovanny Gallegos in the bottom of the ninth over the wall in left for a game-tying homer.
After the Cardinals failed to score in the top of the 10th, the Cardinals’ three veteran Gold Glove winners, Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina and Nolan Arenado, combined to pull off an inning-ending double play that sent the game to the 11th.
The unlikely trio of Jose Rondon, Edmundo Sosa and Andrew Knizner came through for the Cardinals with hits that produced three runs but the Cardinals could not exhale until the ride was finally over – after the Mets scored twice in the bottom of the 11th and had the tying and winning runs on base before Kwang Hyun Kim, the eighth pitcher of the game for the Cardinals, brought the ride to a safe finish by inducing a game-ending ground out.
The win was the second in as many nights for the Cardinals over the Mets, their fourth in a row and sixth in their last seven games. They are a half-game ahead of the Reds and a game ahead of the Padres, who lost at San Francisco Tuesday night, in the playoff race. They reached six games above .500 for the first time since June 2.
Here is how Tuesday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Goldschmidt doubled and scored on a single by O’Neill, who went to third on a single by Molina and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dylan Carlson … They had just one hit over the next three innings as the Mets took the lead, but in the eighth Goldschmidt drew a one-out walk and O’Neill followed with his 26th homer of the season … In the 11th, Rondon led off with a single and Sosa followed with an RBI single before Knizner, the last position player on the Cardinals’ bench, delivered a two-run pinch hit single that put them ahead 7-4.
On the mound: Jake Woodford allowed two runs in the first inning when the Mets took advantage of some soft contact but he then threw three scoreless innings before leaving the game for a pinch-hitter … The Mets broke the tie in the fifth when Daniel Ponce de Leon walked the bases loaded with one out and Kodi Whitley gave up a sacrifice fly before stranding the other two runners … Whitley, Genesis Cabrera and Luis Garcia retired 10 of the 11 hitters they faced to get the game to the ninth, where Baez continued to haunt the Cardinals with his homer off Gallegos … In the 10th the Mets had the winning run on third base with out with Alex Reyes on the mound when Goldschmidt started the double play on a ground ball, tagging first and then throwing to Molina, who got the runner on third in a rundown, where he was tagged out by Arenado … Kim came in to pitch the 11th and allowed two runs before getting the final out to earn the second save of his career.
Key stat: Baez has hit five game-tying or go-ahead home runs in the ninth inning or later in his career. Three of them have come against the Cardinals, including two this season.
Worth noting: The two runs for the Mets in the first inning snapped the Cardinals’ streak of 24 consecutive scoreless innings … Matt Carpenter popped out as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and is now hitless in his last 30 at-bats since Aug. 7 … Peoria third baseman Jordan Walker, the number two prospect in the organization, hit his fifth homer of the last week on Tuesday night, his 14th overall this season combined between Palm Beach and Peoria.
Looking ahead: Jon Lester will get the start on Wednesday night as the Cardinals try to complete the sweep of the three-game series.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains