Jenrry Mejia's solid pitching, Ruben Tejada's strong defense key Mets' win
Theirs is an offense constantly under duress. But the Mets, wearing camouflage on one of their "military nights" and disguising their punch by stranding nine runners, managed to prevail Monday night against the Cardinals, 2-0.
The Mets' sneaky efficiency was boosted significantly by righthander Jenrry Mejia's strong pitching, a couple of splendid plays at shortstop by Ruben Tejada and another capital batting performance by David Wright.
Mejia (3-0, 1.99 ERA) allowed only four hits and struck out seven before being lifted with two outs in the seventh after issuing his second and third walks back-to-back. Scott Rice stanched the potential rally by retiring pinch hitter Shane Robinson on a groundout.
Mets manager Terry Collins, who admitted before the game that he had no idea to whom he would turn to for an eighth-inning setup reliever -- "Maybe Torres," he said -- indeed called on Carlos Torres with one out in the eighth.
After being greeted with a double, bounced over the centerfield fence by Allen Craig, Torres proceeded to strike out Matt Holliday and Matt Adams. And, in the ninth, Kyle Farnsworth's first closing appearance featured a single, double play and groundout.
Days after dealing with a blister, Mejia said his "stuff was pretty good but, you know, my infielders helped me a lot." (More on that in a minute.)
Wright's two-out, broken-bat, run-scoring single in the third inning produced his eighth RBI in his last eight games and extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
More in line with the syllabus of Mets' almosts was the sixth inning, when they scored only once after having five consecutive batters reach base.
Chris Young was safely aboard when losing pitcher Tyler Lyons, just called up from Triple-A Memphis, threw Young's weak nubber over the head of first baseman Adams. Daniel Murphy walked but, when Lyons bounced a pitch to Josh Satin, Young -- after hesitating -- tried advancing to third and easily was thrown out by catcher Yadier Molina.
Satin then walked and Travis d'Arnaud, who has spent most of the young season searching for the key to the castle of offensive production, singled home Murphy. It was d'Arnaud's second hit of the game and lifted his average to .192.
Tejada, breaking his bat, then looped a single inches over second baseman Mark Ellis' head to load the bases. But Mejia flew to short left and Eric Young Jr. flied to center.
Amid the mundane of their offense, though, the Mets had some extraordinary play in the field from Tejada. In the second inning, he made a diving stop to his left on Molina's hard grounder and scrambled to his feet to throw him out.
Even better was Tejada's lunge to smother Jon Jay's hard grounder behind second in the fifth. "Two great plays by Ruben," Collins said. "That double play with Murph. Tremendous. I think Ruben's going to be the guy we saw a couple of years ago."
Flat on his stomach, Tejada flipped backhanded to Murphy, who snatched the ball barehanded to force out Jhonny Peralta and pivoted to double up Jay.
"I play hard every day and try to make all the plays, and try to help the team to win," said Tejada, who is batting .204 after dealing with a springtime of doubts whether he deserved the starting job. "I try to keep my head in the game and separate defense from offense."
Mejia kidded how inevitable such a play was. "David Wright comes to me and says, 'Get the double play,' " Mejia said, "and I see Tejada, he got it, I say, 'OK, double play.' "