Cardinals 12 Mets 7
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse …
Thanks to Iron Mike, the Mets were able to touch the previously untouchable Joel Pineiro for 7 runs on 11 hits in only five frames. Combine that with the fact they had ace Johan Santana on the mound, and you would think this game would be a slam-dunk.
You know how ugly a missed dunk is?
Santana was not his vintage self, but appeared to have pitched just well enough to win. Backed by the offense’s seven-run outburst (two of which he drove in himself), Johan allowed five runs on nine hits in eight innings, and exited with a two-run lead in the hands of fellow Venezuelan Francisco Rodriguez.
However, Frankie shat the bed, giving up back-to-back doubles to Rick Ankiel and Julio Lugo to start the ninth. He struck out pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus, but engaged in a 7-pitch battle royale with the next hitter, Skip Schumaker. Unfortunately for the Mets, Schumaker ended the at-bat with a single to score Lugo and tie up the game. Just like that, Santana had a no-decision and K-Rod his fourth blown save.
The Mets mounted a mild two-out rally in the bottom of the ninth but it petered out when Dan Murphy fanned. The Cards loaded the bases in the top of the tenth and were given the go-ahead run when Sean Green’s first pitch plunked Mark DeRosa. Green’s fifth pitch — an 0-2 slider — was deposited into the seats by Sir Albert Pujols, completing the Cards’ eight-run blitzkrieg over the final three innings.
Green’s HBP scored a runner initially put on base by Pedro Feliciano, so Feliciano was tagged with the loss — his fourth of the year.
To add injury to insult, Luis Castillo slipped on his way down the dugout steps and sprained his ankle after grounding out in the seventh. He’ll likely miss a few games as a result. Shame, considering how well Castillo has been playing of late.
Have to wonder why Brian Stokes threw only one pitch in the tenth. Jerry Manuel chose to play the Matchup Game one day after the bullpen was severely stretched, using Stokes, Feliciano, and Green. What exactly was the plan if the game went 11 or 12 frames? I suppose we would have seen Nelson Figueroa at some point.
K-Rod seemed to be having trouble with his release point, as he left many of his breaking pitches up in the strike zone — he wasn’t “finishing” his pitches, releasing just a hair too early. He threw a season-high 41 pitches, so with Wednesday’s game beginning in the early afternoon, you can forget about his availability. Additionally, Feliciano has thrown 40 pitches over the past 5 days, and 79 over the last 9. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but remember he’s warming up in the bullpen before coming into these games, so add in another 15-20 pitches at minimum per day.
In all honesty, I felt a slight pang of concern when Manuel pinch-hit for Santana in the bottom of the 8th. I know he was having a rough night, and had thrown 103 pitches, but there was this thought in my head suggesting that the best plan was to leave Johan in there. Naturally, if he was left in and the Mets lost as a result, I’d be raking Manuel over the coals for making such a boneheaded decision. Maybe the problem is that I’ve been trained to expect the worst from this ballclub.
Pujols, who had been “slumping” recently (1 for his last 13 coming into the game), was 4-for-5 with 2 HRs, 3 runs scored, and 5 RBI. Hate to think what might’ve happened if he were on a hot streak.
Next Mets Game
The final game of the series occurs at 12:10 PM on Wednesday afternoon. Jonathan Niese faces Kyle Lohse.