Mets according to the manager are “Playing Hard” and it showed again against Cardinals

Rich Mancuso

It is only three weeks into the season and there are times the New York Mets appear to be headed for another loss. But, Wednesday night, at a windy and chilly Citi field the manager Terry Collins had the right words: “We’re hanging in there because we play hard.”

And there is no doubt, after a 3-2 win over the St. Louis, after an interesting ninth inning, the Mets are not making the manager look bad.

Mets starter Jonathon Niese (1-2) got his first win of the season. But that ninth inning, something that went on the wrong side many times last season, was what promoted the manager to comment about why his team is hanging in there at 11-10.  More so, they have a chance to take a four game series over the defending National League champions with a series finale Thursday afternoon.

Niese departed after throwing 6-2/3 innings giving up one run. The Cardinals’ starter, Michael Wacha had trouble on the mound dealing with wind gusts of 45 MPH and at one point his cap flew off his head and had an unusual game. He struck out a career high 10, the fourth pitcher to strike out that many in four or less innings since 1900.

But, he also had a two-run 30- pitch fourth inning and walked five.

“It was terrible, the worst, not fun,” said Wacha about his outing and the weather conditions.

However, it was that ninth inning and the Cardinals had a chance off Mets closer Kyle Farnsworth. The tying runs were at first and second, pinch hitter Daniel Decalso sent a ball to left-center field. Kirk Nieuwenhuis got the ball and on the relay connected with Ruben Tejada. It looked like Farnsworth would fail in his second attempt since inheriting the closing role.

There was no way Matt Carpenter would be out at the plate, and it was going to be another bullpen disaster.

But, as Collins said, his team is playing hard. Tejada made a great throw and catcher Travis d’Arnaud got the tag. The replay showed that plate umpire Marty Foster made the right call after the Cardinals asked for a challenge.

Even Farnsworth would admit, “I figured it was a tie game.”

“I still can’t believe I witnessed it,” claimed d’Arnaud. “My heart is still racing.” And, like so many times before, the few at Citi Field also saw their hearts racing because if that relay had not worked to perfection the Mets may have seen their pen give up another game or take it to extra innings at home.

Added d”Arnaud,"I turned my head, and I saw [Carpenter] in my peripheral vision. "I saw that he was kind of past me, so I started tagging behind me. I knew I tagged him. I just didn't know if he tagged the plate first. I knew there had to be two perfect throws just to give that play a chance."

The Mets with a slugging percentage of .311, a team worse since 1980, got a home run from Lucas Duda in the sixth inning. His fourth home run that went deep to right-center came off on an outside sinker off Cardinals’ reliever Seth Maness for a 3-2 Mets lead.

Tejada at the plate in the fourth, with two outs and the bases loaded off Wacha took a 3-0 fastball that scored Daniel Murphy that tied the game at 1-1 in an inning where the Mets scored two runs.

 However, it was that ninth inning play at the plate that had everyone talking. It prompted Collins to also know, that at this early juncture in the season, his team us to be taken seriously.

The starters have thrown quality games in their last eight of nine. That goes along with five wins and an ERA of 1.91. Niese has allowed four runs in 18 1/3 innings, pitched three starts in cold weather which prompted Collins to say, “I don’t know what it is about Jon Niese and cold-weather games, but he pitched great tonight given the conditions.” He is 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA in six starts against St. Louis.

“Three keys, all three guys did their job,” said Collins about that relay in the ninth. They don’t get down about some of the stuff like the conditions and are ready to play.”

The manager knows. His team that many say has no chance, is ready and the Cardinals know that as they try to get a split of the series  

NOTES:  On Wacha and how the Mets approached him with patience at the plate, Collins said “A lot was said in the dugout. Work him to death because he has a lot of great stuff. He’s got a great arm and pounds the strike zone. The guys didn’t get away with anything but trying to get something to hit…

The Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, 3-for-3 extended his hitting streak to 14 games….Curtis Granderson who made the game ending out going far to the right field corner snapped a career high 0- for -22 skid with a single in the fifth inning...The challenge was the first one of the season for Cardinals' manager Mike Matheny.

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