NEW YORK — At one point in the ninth inning, the umpires and grounds crew at Citi Field couldn't decide whether or not to postpone the game because of rain, whether or not to put a tarp over the infield, whether or not to cave to the demands from players to finish the game or protect the infield from the persisting precipitation.
All the while puddles formed around home plate.
And near first base.
And some at third.
But, hey, the mound seemed OK.
A curious, messy ending because of the delay became an opportunity for the Cardinals to rally and tie the game, 4-4, through nine innings. Hometown boy Harrison Bader slid a double into left field that scored Kolten Wong from first base. Wong kept his feet as he raced around the muddy, wet basepaths. Bader did not. He slid between second and third and was thrown out end the ninth inning.
The tarp eventually did come on for a delay. The game will be resumed at 5:10 p.m. St. Louis time Friday night from Citi Field. Carlos Martinez will be on the mound for the Cardinals, having already officially entered the game to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning.
Two runs off Jack Flaherty in the sixth inning put the Mets ahead and continued a trend for the young starter. The Cardinals scored him a 1-0 lead, and he lost it on a two-run homer to Michael Conforto. The Cardinals tied the game with Paul DeJong's solo homer, and then Flaherty misplaced the tie game in the sixth inning.
Three hits and a sacrifice fly produced the two runs that proved the difference as the Mets before the ninth.
To begin the rally in the ninth, Wong singled home a run in the sloppy ninth inning with a ball off the wall in left field that scored Marcell Ozuna.
Flaherty allowed four runs, all earned, in 5 1/3 innings on sixhit and two walks. He struck out eight. deGrom struck out eight and did not walk a batter. Cardinals relievers Andrew Miller and Giovanny Gallegos struck out the final six Mets they faced to get the game, through the rain, to the ninth inning.
Bader, playing in his native New York for the first time as a big-leaguer, had two hits and stole two bases, and he scored the Cardinals first run. deGrom struck him out on a changeup to end the seventh inning with the tying run at the plate and on his season-high 116th pitch.
Helsley's shoulder injury lands him on injured list, brings Cabrera back to Cards
With their pitching ranks thinned further by injury, the Cardinals brought back lefty Genesis Cabrera on Thursday from Class AAA Memphis shortly after he was returned to the affiliate to "work on his craft."
The latest dent to the Cardinals' pitching staff came Wednesday in Miami when Ryan Helsley had to leave the game with shoulder pain.
He was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday afternoon with an impingement in his right shoulder. Last season, he had his cut short by soreness and fatigue in that same joint. The Cardinals have not advertised how long they expect the power reliever to miss, though the recurrence of trouble in that area and description of an impingement could require additional time to recover.
UPDATE: Manger Mike Shildt said that Helsley was seen by a doctor in New York on Thursday morning and prescribed anti-inflammatory medication, and he could receive a cortisone shot if that does not help. If he responds to the current treatment Helsley will be able to throw before the end of the 10 day IL stay.
Cabrera, a starter when last he was with the Cardinals, could fill multiple innings as a reliever or give the Cardinals an alternative for their opening in the rotation.
Daniel Ponce de Leon is set to make a start Friday in Adam Wainwright's spot.
Cabrera made two starts for the Cardinals, and in each one the Cardinals believe he was "volunteering" his pitches. That is, he was tipping the hitters to what was coming next. That would explain why he did not have a swing and miss in his most recent appearance in the majors. The Cardinals returned him to Triple-A Memphis with the assignment of ironing out the tells in his mechanics so that when needed again in the majors he wasn't as predictable.
Manager Mike Shildt at the time predicted that Cabrera would still have "an impact on our team, and this year."
Helsley (shoulder) joins Wainwright (hamstring) as recent additions to the injured list. The depth has also been tested by the assignment of former starters, like Carlos Martinez, to the the bullpen, and the work Alex Reyes has done in the minors to gain his command and work his way back from a fractured hand and lengthy absences.
The Cardinals face reigning Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom at Citi Field in Queens this evening. They counter with righthander Jack Flaherty.
Here's the lineup for this evening's series-opener:
1. Matt Carpenter, 3B
2. Paul DeJong, SS
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4. Marcell Ozuna, LF
5. Jose Martinez, RF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Kolten Wong, 2B
8. Harrison Bader, CF
9. Jack Flaherty, P