The Mets are not going without a fight, but it was not enough on Tuesday night.
After temporarily avoiding loss with Javier Baez’s equalizer in the bottom of the ninth, the Mets still suffered a crushing 11 innings loss, falling to the Cardinals 7-6 at Citi Field.
Jake Reed, who was activated from the injured list earlier today, allowed three points on three singles in the lead of the 11th after the Mets already exhausted Aaron Loup, Jeurys Familia, Trevor May, Edwin Diaz and Heath Hembree to cover four innings of relief – with Seth Lugo unavailable due to his recent workload.
Pete Alonso punched an RBI brace in the bottom of the 11th to make it 7-5 before the Cardinals intentionally stepped on Baez. After Jeff McNeil relied on the choice of a defensive player, Kevin Pillar made a mistake that scored Alonso to get the Mets in a single run.
But pinch hitter Albert Almora Jr. failed to end it as the Mets (72-74) lost their second straight game with their playoff hopes taking another hit – now four games behind the Cardinals (75 -69) for the second NL wild card with 16 games remaining.
“Pretty frustrated,” said Marcus Stroman, who allowed two runs in six innings but was called out after 89 shots. “Obviously we’re working extremely hard and our goal is to qualify for the playoffs and go further. Certainly not happy at all.
The Mets had a chance to win in the bottom of the 10th after putting runners in the corners with one out. But Alex Reyes got Francisco Lindor to take down in a double play – perfectly executed by Paul Goldschmidt, who lined up the ball, walked first and threw home Yadier Molina, who took down Pillar in a rundown to escape the jam.
Stroman’s early exit was one of several pitching decisions that left manager Luis Rojas uncertain. Rojas didn’t push Stroman in the seventh, citing his heavy workload this season – he started his 31st league-leading game on Tuesday and advanced to 169 innings after failing to pitch last year.
“He couldn’t come back,” Rojas said. “Stroman tonight he was tired for all the rounds he has [been] used. “
Loup needed just seven shots to pull the Cardinals’ bottom order off in the seventh. But Rojas went to Familia for the eighth – giving her a one point lead to start the eighth inning for the first time all season – enjoying how his lead compared to the top of the range. Instead, Familia walked Goldschmidt before serving a two-run homerun to Tyler O’Neill on a lead that turned a 3-2 lead for the Mets into a 4-3 advantage for the Cardinals.
“At this point in the season we would like everyone to leave their arm out there – that would be ideal for me – but sometimes it’s just not real,” Rojas said. “I can’t ask for more from the guys. At this point, that would be unfair. I can’t put them in a situation where it would jeopardize anything else – their business, their health. “
Baez had worked his magic late in the ninth, starting with a solo home run that tied the game 4-4 and the crowd of 21,825 chanted his name, to which he responded with a callback. It was the Mets’ first hit since Baez’s single in the first inning.
The Mets’ missed opportunities offensively were also responsible for the loss. Michael Conforto put them forward 3-2 in the fifth with a sacrificial volley after three goals-laden goals, but they couldn’t add as Pete Alonso struck out (fall to 0-for-19, which went 0-for-20 before his double in the 11th inning) and broke the bat on the knee.
“We felt that we were going to come home with a pied-à-terre [in the 10th]”Rojas said,“ but not the case. ”