In the fifth inning of Thursday’s game between the Rockies and Cardinals, a struggling Carlos Martinez drilled D.J. LeMahieu in the hip with his 95th pitch of the game. It looked like a purpose pitch, though nothing leading up to it had suggested anyone would want to be throwing at anyone. Whether it was intentional or not, Martinez’s immaturity showed when he walked off the mound and jawed with LeMahieu afterwards. Worse, after escaping the inning, Martinez directed an obscene gesture towards the Rockies dugout.
Fast forward two innings. Rockies reliever Christian Friedrich, in his first inning of work, got the first two batters he faced. He then sent his first pitch to Kolten Wong not only in his direction, but up near his head:
Fortunately, no real harm was done. Wong took the pitch off his shoulder and walked to first without incident. The incredible thing is that Friedrich was allowed to continue pitching, even though warnings appeared to be issued after the earlier incident.
Regardless, herein lies the stupidity of beanball wars. Whether Friedrich intended to go up there or put one in his ribcage, the end result could have ended Wong’s season or worse. He deserves a lengthy suspension, and manager Walt Weiss should also be banned from the dugout for a spell. It’s 2015. There’s no longer any place for these purposely dangerous acts in baseball, and it shouldn’t take a career being ended for MLB to do something about it.
On so-called “getaway day”, the Mets played and won an 18-inning marathon in St. Louis against the Cardinals. Now, they have to hop on a late flight to Washington, D.C. for a three-game set against the Nationals before heading back to Queens, New York for a 10-game homestand. Not exactly fun if you’re wearing a Mets uniform.
The game was deadlocked in a scoreless tie through 12 innings before the Mets broke through with a run in the top of the 13th on Kevin Plawecki’s RBI single. But the Cardinals answered in the bottom half of the 13th when Kolten Wong hit a game-tying solo home run, sending the game into yet more extra innings. It wouldn’t be until the 18th that the Mets would finally capitalize on one of their many opportunities.
Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez, in his fourth inning of relief, allowed back-to-back singles to begin the 18th inning, then committed a fielding error to load the bases for Ruben Tejada. Tejada lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in the go-ahead run and send a potential insurance run to third base. Eric Campbell followed up with a squeeze bunt, bringing in the Mets’ second run of the inning to make it a 3-1 game. Mets reliever Carlos Torres was able to set down the Cardinals in order to preserve the 3-1, 18-inning victory.
The game was beautiful in its ugliness. The Mets went 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position, matching a club record with 25 runners left on base, per ESPN’s Adam Rubin. ESPN Stats & Info notes that the two teams combined to go 1-for-34 with RISP and left 39 combined runners on base.
Lost in the marathon was a stellar effort by Jon Niese, who tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out three. The lefty, a potential trade piece for the Mets, has a 2.28 ERA over his last eight starts spanning 55 1/3 innings.
The Mets are now 48-44, two games behind the Nationals for first place in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Cardinals maintain a 4.5-game lead over the Pirates for first place in the NL Central with their 58-34 record.
Good news on two fronts for the Cardinals this evening, as second baseman Kolten Wong has been cleared to return and outfielder Matt Holliday could be activated from the disabled list as soon as tomorrow.
Wong showed signs of a concussion after he made a leaping catch during Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Cubs, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told John McGonigal of MLB.com this afternoon that he was cleared by doctors. He’s available off the bench tonight and the expectation is that he’ll be back in the starting lineup Friday.
Holliday has been out for a month with a Grade 2 strain of his right quad. He’s not ready to play in the outfield quite yet, but Matheny said that he could be an option off the bench this weekend during an important NL Central battle against the Pirates. Of course, Holliday was elected by the fans to start for the National League in next week’s All-Star Game and still hopes to play.