NEW YORK – Adam Wainwright won his fifth straight start in a rare 40-year-old pitching clash, and the St. Louis Cardinals shut out the New York Mets 7-0 on Monday night.
Paul Goldschmidt had a home run and got two RBIs for the soaring Cardinals, who won five of six. St. Louis is tied with San Diego at 74-69, half a game behind Cincinnati for the NL’s second wild card.
“We just have to keep winning the playoffs,” Wainwright said. “We continue to win playoffs and we’re going to be in good shape these days.”
New York is 3 1/2 games behind the Reds, with three teams in between.
“I understand we’re facing it right now,” said 41-year-old Mets starting pitcher Rich Hill. “We have to win football games.”
Wainwright, 40, a thorn in the side of the Mets since saving Game 7 of the 2006 NL Championship Series by freezing Carlos Beltran with a curveball to escape a base-laden jam, allowed four hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out four batters as he edged Hill.
Wainwright (16-7) had only one 1-2-3 inning but managed by blocking seven runners – including loaded bases in the first, when he struck out Jeff McNeil on three shots.
“I love nostalgia and I felt like every Mets fan wanted to see me in this basic loaded situation and I felt like they wanted to see me throw two curve balls and a change,” Wainwright said with a smile. “So I gave people what they want.”
Wainwright is 9-2 with a 2.02 ERA in his last 12 starts, with at least six innings each time.
“He pitched extremely well,” Cardinals coach Mike Shildt said. “He gave us a lot of innings and the residual advantage is that we were able to use our reliever box less.”
Dylan Carlson netted an RBI brace in the second and Goldschmidt delivered a single with a run in the third before scoring the fifth goal.
The Mets threatened Alex Reyes in the eighth before he knocked out Pete Alonso, Javier Baez and McNeil – forwards 4-5-6.
“It was good to see him at that point, reverse the script and go back to the Alex we know and love,” Wainwright said of Reyes, who lost his closest job after posted an 8.03 ERA in 14 games as of Aug. 1. September 5 to 7.
Nolan Arenado, Yadier Molina, Edmundo Sosa and Harrison Bader all had RBI singles in the ninth.
Hill (6-7) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.
“I’m putting us in a pretty crappy position to have the opportunity to win the game,” Hill said. “It falls on me. There are just no excuses. “
BETTER WITH AGE
It was the first time starting pitchers 40 or older have faced each other since June 18, 2015, when RA Dickey, 40, started for Toronto against the Mets and Bartolo Colon, 42.
“The game has gotten younger and 40 is a pretty characteristic number,” said Shildt.
Wainwright turned 40 on August 30, while Hill, the majors’ oldest pitcher, turned 41 on March 11.
“He’s got a better fastball than me and potentially a better breaker ball,” Wainwright said. ” He is impressive. He started later. He’s kind of figured it out over the last seven or eight years. “
Both pitchers flaunted their versatile arsenals, which included fastballs in the 80s (mph) and many clocked curved balls in the 70s, as well as at least two clocked Hill sliders in the 60s.
“You expect a chess game – throwing shots, a lot of throws with intention, a lot of shuffling,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas, who is two days younger than Wainwright. “Two guys who have been in the league for a while now for a reason.”
The game marked the first time Wainwright has pitted an older pitcher since October 10. On December 2, 2016, when he faced 39-year-old Ryan Vogelsong.
Junior first baseman Valentine stayed in the game after being hit in the right side of the face by a wild throw from Sosa to the shortstop in the second inning.
Valentine, with blood on her face, stood up and spoke with her fellow umpires as well as a Mets coach who applied a towel to the injury.
The crowd of 19,057 people cheered as Valentine – a bruise already forming on her face – returned to her position. He exchanged smiles and words with base runner Kevin Pillar, who suffered a broken face when he was hit in the nose by a fastball in May, ahead of Wainwright’s next pitch.
“Junior is fine. He has been examined and has no broken bones. He was incredibly alert from the start. The blood seemed to stop pretty quickly, thankfully, and he was adamant he was fine, ”team manager Jerry Meals said in a post-match statement.
Cardinals: RHP Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) allowed a run in five innings for Double-A Springfield on Sunday night. It was the fourth start to rehab for Hudson, who is scheduled to make it another Friday. … RHP Jack Flaherty (right shoulder) is due to pitch a bullpen in St. Louis on Thursday.
Mets: C Tomas Nido (left thumb) has joined the Mets for batting practice after playing back-to-back games for Triple-A Syracuse and could be activated on Tuesday. … VO Brandon Nimmo (right hamstring) trained at batting. … RHP Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery) had a touch pad and could practice batting this week – his first time against batters since his rehabilitation progress was halted when he tested positive for COVID – 19.
Cardinals: RHP Jake Woodford (2-3, 4.38 ERA) allowed a run in four innings against the Dodgers last Thursday when he returned to the rotation.
Mets: RHP Marcus Stroman (9-12, 2.87) is expected to make his 31st start at the top of the major leagues.
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