Wednesday night at an extremely windy Citi Field was a tale of two Wachas — Michael Wacha, that is. The Cardinals starter began the game on a historic strikeout binge but then walked in two runs and was gone after four innings as the Mets went on to beat the Cardinals.
The Mets botched a rundown in the first inning and it led to a run for the Cardinals. With runners on first and second with one out, Alan Craig hit a soft, sinking liner to Daniel Murphy at second. The ball hit the ground just in front of Murphy’s glove. The runners had to freeze, so the Mets easily got a force at second. The runner on second, Matt Carpenter, got caught in a rundown going to third, but Ruben Tejada vacated second base after making the throw to David Wright so Carpenter was able to scamper back to second. So instead of an inning-ending double play, Yadier Molina came up with runners on first and second. He singled to drive in Carpenter to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
Good news for the Mets in the bottom of the inning — Curtis Granderson singled to snap an 0-22 streak.
Wacha was just incredible early on. He became just the seventh pitcher in the history of baseball to record nine strikeouts through the first three innings. There were two walks and a hit sprinkled in so they were not consecutive, but it means that he got all of his outs by strikeouts.
But then came the fourth. Murphy led off with a single and then the strikeout streak was broken when Chris Young grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first out. Lucas Duda walked and Travis d’Arnaud singled to load the bases. Wacha walked Ruben Tejada to force in the tying run. Jonathon Niese struck out but then Wacha walked Kirk Nieuwenhuis to force in another run and give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Granderson fouled out for the final out.
Wacha was done after the inning with the odd pitching line of four innings pitched, 10 strikeouts and five walks. He threw 93 pitches. As Gary Cohen pointed out on the broadcast, it was just the third time in MLB history that a pitcher struck out 10 or more batters in four or fewer innings. Amazingly, they have all happened very recently — last September and two weeks ago.
Duda led off the six inning with his fourth home run of the season to extend the Mets lead to 3-1.
Niese pitched very well, going 6.2 innings, allowing one run on six hits. He struck out three and walked two. He won his first game of the season against two losses. His ERA dropped to 2.45.
Carlos Torres pitched the eighth, and when he put runners on second and third with two outs, he had to be bailed out by Scott Rice. He got Matt Adams on a fly to right to end the threat.
Kyle Farnsworth came on for the ninth. With one out he allowed two singles and then Daniel Descalso doubled to left-center. One run scored but d’Arnaud was able to tag out Matt Carpenter. The play was close, and it was reviewed and upheld. So with the score 3-2 and the potential tying run on second with two outs, Farnsworth was able to get Matt Holliday to fly out to end the game.
Mets win 3-2 despite only managing four hits against Cardinals pitching.