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A whiff of trouble: Cardinals strike out an unlucky 13 times and fall, 3-1, to Mets in Game 1

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NEW YORK — The offensive outburst that carried them so far and so late into the evening Sunday that the Cardinals could have a little fun and make a little history with Albert Pujols on the mound had been washed away by the first game Tuesday.

They’ll have a second chance to make a better impression on the Mets that night.

The Mets collected a few hits and a few runs early against Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas to take a lead and hold on for a 3-1 victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citi Field. The Mets got four innings from Trevor Williams before a parade of relievers handled the rest to set up the evening game for starter Taijuan Walker. Williams had six of the dozen strikeouts the Mets pitchers had before the Cardinals had a flickering of opportunity in the ninth.

Against Mets closer Edwin Diaz, the Cardinals got the tying run on base with two outs and New York native Harrison Bader at the plate.

Tyler O’Neill, who struck out in his first three at-bats, revived the Cardinals in the ninth with a two-out single. A walk followed. And then Bader. Diaz struck out Bader to end the inning. The strikeout to end the game was the Cardinals’ 13th, though they remain one of the teams with the lowest strikeout rate in the National League.

Game 2 is scheduled to begin at 5:50 p.m. St. Louis time.

Paul Goldschmidt extended the Cardinals’ streak of games with at least one home run to 12, the longest active streak in the majors. Goldschmidt lofted his fifth homer of the season to right field in the eighth inning for the Cardinals’ lone run.

A fielding error at shortstop to start the third inning sparked the Mets’ decisive rally. Francisco Lindor skipped a grounder that Brendan Donovan mishandled. Doubles from Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smooth followed to add to two runs to the Mets’ lead and provide the gap that all of the Mets’ pitchers who entered would hold.

The Mets’ innings felt longer than they were productive.

Mikolas tumbled behind into counts and into long at-bats, but he largely minimized the trouble that any of that caused. In the first inning, Mikolas got ahead 0-2 on McNeil before the Mets’ outfielder fouled off four consecutive pitches. The seventh pitch of the at-bat was a 63.7-mph curveball – and it was the first ball of the at-bat. McNeil would see 12 pitches in the at-bat, and Mikolas would prevail with a groundout. So it went. The Mets sent six batters to the plate in the bottom of the second inning and yet produced only one run.

The Mets would get an error and two extra-base hits in the third inning, but could only squeeze two runs and a 3-0 lead from that before Mikolas asserted himself.

He got his footing with a perfect fourth and chewed innings from there.

After Smith’s double scored McNeil in the third, Mikolas did not allow another Met to reach second base safely.

The Cardinals offense just never stirred to answer.

Dylan Carlson got no farther than his single took him in the second. He got only as far as his double put him in the fourth inning. Two walks from Williams in the fifth inning didn’t amount to anything of a threat for the Cardinals. Most of the time it was a strikeout that slowed them. Back in the lineup after a weekend break to work on his timing, O’Neill struck out three times in his first three at-bats, once with a runner in scoring position. Williams struck out six Cardinals in his four innings.

Going into the ninth, the Cardinals had struck out 10 times. The first two batters of the ninth inning also struck out. The only walks the Cardinals had were the two left stranded in the rally that could have been.

The lineups for Game 2 will be posted here shortly.

CARDINALS

1. Tommy Edman, 2B

2. Brendan Donovan, 3B

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Dylan Carlson, RF

5. Corey Dickerson, DH

6. Tyler O'Neill, LF

7. Edmundo Sosa, SS

8. Harrison Bader, CF

9. Andrew Knizner, C

Pitcher: Steven Matz, LHP

METS

1. Brandon Nimmo, CF

2. Mark Canha, LF

3. Francisco Lindor, SS

4. Pete Alonso, 1B

5. Eduardo Escobar, 3B

6. Jeff McNeil, 3B

7. J. D. Davis, DH

8. Travis Jankowski, RF

9. Tomas Nido, C

Pitcher: Taijuan Walker, RHP

***

From earlier ... 

Let the wild rumpus resume! Mets host Cardinals for doubleheader; Mikolas draws Game 1

When last they saw the New York Mets, the Cardinals were furious, a fracas had bloomed and subsided, Nolan Arenado and Genesis Cabrera were a few hours from receiving suspensions, and Pete Alonso was explaining why he was wrestled to the ground by first-base coach Stubby Clapp.

That was less than three weeks ago.

We resume regularly scheduled programming with a rivalry already in progress.

A day after thunderstorms and poor weather inspired the preemptive postponement of Monday's game, the Cardinals and Mets, under a sunny sky, meet ago, and it's not clear if time or rain have cooled tempers. Neither team left the series in St. Louis earlier this season with much fondness for the other.

And now they face each other for times between 2 p.m. St. Louis time Tuesday and 3 p.m. St. Louis time Thursday.

Buckle up.

In a bit of a twist, the teams are going rather traditional for Tuesday's doubleheader. It's a single-ticket doubleheader for Mets' fan. The schedule posted in the Cardinals' clubhouse said there will be between 30 minutes and 45 minutes between the game. Even the mention of a possible 30-minute intermission is something. And both teams have announced starters for the games — no openers, no cobbling togethers of innings from relievers, no promotion from the minors at the day's midpoint for a cameo start.

The Cardinals are going with Miles Mikolas in Game 1, and Steven Matz will start against his former team in Game 2. Mikolas had been the announced starter for Monday's game, and Matz set for Tuesday.

The Cardinals opted to stick with them on turn instead of subbing in a minor-leaguer for a Game 2 start and moving the rotation back an entire day. That does mean they'll need a starter for Saturday's game in Pittsburgh. Manager Oliver Marmol said the team will make that call once they get to PNC Park later in the week. It will either be a bullpen game (Drew VerHagen comes to mind as the likely starter) or they'll promote a pitcher from Class AAA to make that start.

Both teams will have a 27th man for both games of the doubleheader Tuesday. The Cardinals brought back lefty Packy Naughton. He can provide length for the team, if needed.

After two scheduled days off to get work in the cage, work with coaches, and even stand in on a couple of bullpens, Tyler O'Neill returns to the lineup and is expected to start both halves of the doubleheader. He's batting seventh for the first game as the Cardinals reintroduce their struggling left field to the starting lineup with hopes he regained his timing and will rise in the lineup as his OPS does.

Here are the lineups for Game 1 at Citi Field.

CARDINALS

1. Tommy Edman, 2B

2. Paul Goldschmidt, DH

3. Nolan Arenado, 3B

4. Juan Yepez, 1B

5. Yadier Molina, C

6. Dylan Carlson, RF

7. Tyler O'Neill, LF

8. Brendan Donovan, 3B

9. Harrison Bader, CF

Pitcher: Miles Mikolas, RHP

METS

1. Brandon Nimmo, CF

2. Francisco Lindor, SS

3. Jeff McNeil, LF

4. Pete Alonso, DH

5. Dominic Smith, 1B

6. Eduardo Escobar, 3B

7. Luis Guillorme, 2B

8. Travis Jankowski, RF

9. Patrick Mazeika, C

Pitcher: Trevor Williams, RHP

Check back throughout the day for coverage of the doubleheader, including immediate coverage here from the first game and the lineup for the second game. There will also be complete and expanded coverage here at StlToday.com and in the pages of the Wednesday Post-Dispatch.

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