By Mike Steffanos
Mets 10 - Cardinals 8
The Mets staked Steve Trachsel to a 10-2 lead, but needed 4 innings out of 5 relievers to secure the win. The last time Trachsel and Mulder met resulted in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss for the Mets; this game played to a much different script.
The Mets jumped right on a rusty Mark Mulder, who was making his first start returning from the DL. Reyes led off with a single, and 1 out later Beltran worked a walk. Delgado's booming double scored Reyes and advanced Beltran to second. The Cards elected to intentionally walk the slumping David Wright to load the bases, but Chris Woodward foiled the strategy with a bases-clearing double to put the Mets up 4-0.
Trachsel was efficient for 2 innings, but faltered in the third. Ronnie Belliard beat him with a first pitch double, then, after retiring Molina, Trachsel walked Mulder on 4 pitches. One out later he walked Chris Duncan on 5 pitches to bring up Pujols with the bases loaded. Pujols' single halved the lead to 4-2.
After allowing Mulder to escape a jam in the second, the Mets hurt him in the third when Reyes blasted a 2-out, 3-run homer. After Trachsel pitched a quick scoreless fourth, the Mets knocked Mulder out of the game with 3 more in the bottom of the frame. David Wright had a 2 RBI double, and Milledge drove him home with a single.
Now staked to a 10-2 lead, you would hope that Trachsel would take you deep into the game and hold the Redbirds at bay. It was not to be. The weak-hitting Jose Vizcaino beat him with a 2-run homer in the fifth, then Trachsel allowed back-to-back homers to Rolen and Preston Wilson and a walk to Encarnacion with no outs in the sixth. Roberto Hernandez came into the game and got a DP and a ground out to escape the sixth, but the lead had been cut to 10-6.
Hernandez walked pinch hitter Jim Edmonds leading off the seventh, then retired Vizcaino on a fly to Beltran. Pedro Feliciano came in to face lefty Chris Duncan and struck him out, then Chad Bradford came in to face Pujols and got him on a grounder to second for the final out.
Bradford stayed in for the eighth, but got beat with back-to-back doubles by Rolen and Wilson to make it 10-7. Belliard singled home Wilson 1 out later to cut it to 10-8. The Mets couldn't quite turn a DP on Bennet's grounder, and needed to bring in Heilman to strike out pinch hitter Scott Spiezio to end the eighth.
Wagner came in to nail down save number 32 on the year. He allowed only Pujols' 2-out single before retiring Rolen on a comebacker to end the game.
Thoughts on the game
I'll give Trachsel credit for winning again, but after some good outings he reverted back tonight to the fairly ineffective hurler he was a month ago. Let's update the chart:
We won't belabor the point here, but Maine left the door open for Steve to really establish himself as that fourth playoff starter tonight, and it just didn't happen. While not quite as bad as Trachsel had been pitching a month ago, tonight was a clear step back for the veteran righty. Still, it's his first really bad game this month after some good ones. We'll see what he does next time out.
Nice game for Woodward with the 2 hits and 3 RBIs, but it kind of worries me that he seems to be bouncing the throw to first on almost every single double play he turns.
Wright still looks pretty lost despite the double. Even that came on a bad pitch he would have spit on when he was right. Delgado's long slump is now a bad memory, but it took quite a while. You suspect it might take a while for Wright, too.
Jeez, I thought Jose Reyes was just a skinny little guy with no power.
I was disappointed that on the 0-2 pitch to Pujols in the ninth, Wagner didn't throw a slider down out of the strike zone. The fastball he did throw, while not a cripple, was much too good, and Pujols singled. Still, it's another save -- 18 of his last 19 chances for Billy the Kid.
The win was the Mets' tenth in a row at home, upping their record to 77-48, 29 games above break even for the season. After some mid-season sputtering, this team has been playing very well since the disappointing series in Philadelphia.
This game is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.