The Cardinals headed into the second half of the baseball season with the best record in all of Major League Baseball, and still hold a 2.5 game lead over the rival Pittsburgh Pirates.
And yet, there was even better news in Cardinal Nation before their game against the New York Mets.
After over a month being on the disabled list, the Cardinals got their starting left fielder back, as Friday night’s game saw the return of Matt Holliday. Holliday was hitting .303 with three homers and an .839 OPS in 52 games before a grade two right quad strain put him on the disabled list that lasted long enough to cause him to miss the All-Star game.
Holliday batted third in the lineup in his return.
And in his return game, the Cardinals were able to score three unanswered runs throughout the duration of the second half of the game to defeat the Mets 3-2.
The pitching matchup featured Lance Lynn (6-5, 2.90) for St. Louis, and Noah Syndergaard (4-4, 3.11) for New York.
Curtis Granderson led off the first inning, and made an immediate impact, hitting a solo home run to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. It was Granderson’s 14th home run of the season. Snydergaard, meanwhile, threw a 1-2-3 inning to start off his day.
Lynn rebounded in the top of the second inning, by striking out the side.
Mark Reynolds led off the bottom of the third inning by hitting a single, the first hit of the night for the Cardinals. Randal Grichuk then reached base, bringing up Lynn, who then advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt. However, Snydergaard struck out both Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter to get out of the jam.
Through the first half of the game, the only blemish Lynn had on his performance was the solo home run allowed to Granderson, but Snydergaard was able to keep the Cardinals in check, as the game remained 1-0 Mets.
That is, until the bottom of the sixth inning.
Wong led off the inning with a single, and, on a throwing error, was able to advance to third. Carpenter then grounded out, scoring Wong and tying the game at 1-1. After a groundout by Holliday, Jhonny Peralta blasted his 14th home run to make it 2-1 Cardinals. During the next at-bat, Jason Heyward hit his first triple of the season, but was stranded on base in the end.
Later in the game, after arguing with umpire Chad Fairchild, Mets manager Terry Collins was ejected from the game.
In the eighth inning, Kevin Siegrist entered the game in relief of Lynn, whose final line for the game was: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. With two outs and Granderson on first, Siegrist was able to get William Flores out to end the inning.
After a lead off single by Wong, Peter Bourjos hit a one out double scoring him to make it 3-2 Cardinals. Bourjos then reached third base on a groundout by Peralta, bring up Heyward with two outs. Mets reliever Alex Torres faced off against Heyward, and walked him. With runners on the corners (later on second and third after a stolen base), Yadier Molina flied out to end the inning.
Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal entered to pitch the bottom of the ninth to get the save, and despite allowing Lucas Duda to score on a Ruben Tejada single as the Cardinals defeated the Mets 3-1, improving to 57-33 on the season, while the Mets drop to 47-43. Lynn improves to 7-5, while Snydergaard drops to 4-5. Rosenthal earned his 27th save of the season.
With the Cubs and Pirates both losing, St. Louis now is (as of Friday) 3.5 games ahead in the National League Central division.
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)