Another dubious decision by manager Terry Collins could have caused damaging results, but the Mets were saved by a couple of pitching prospects who performed gracefully under pressure.
In a must win series opener against the Cardinals, starter Jon Niese lasted a third of an inning as his faulty knee failed him, retiring only one of the four batters he faced.
Rookies Robert Gsellman, and Josh Smoker restored order tossing a combined 5 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the Mets alive and well in the wildcard, Gsellman getting the 7-4 win in his major league debut.
Gsellman’s introduction to the bigs was foreboding when his first offering was drilled for a double off the bat of Yadier Molina, scoring two of the runners he inherited from Niese. After Jhonny Peralta tied it up with a ground out to Reyes, the young right-hander struck out Jedd Gyorko, maintaining his cool for the rest of his joyous stay.
Even though Gsellman was warned Niese may have an early exit. “It was my first time ever coming out of the bullpen, so it felt kind of awkward,” Gsellman said. “You still have to take the mound the same way as when you’re starting.”
Wilmer Flores drew first blood with a three run blast in the top of the first, which Niese gave back in the bottom of the inning.
Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera, red hot from his return from the DL, regained the lead off of consecutive run scoring hits in the 2nd, then Justin Ruggiano crushed a solo shot to center for a 6-3 cushion in the 4th.
After a Randal Grichuk line drive home run closed the gap 6-4, James Loney picked a fine time to break his slump with a flare to center field, tacking on another dose of insurance.
St. Louis had many attempts to get back in the game, but the Mets bullpen of Jerry Blevins, Jim Henderson, and Addison Reed muscled their way out of men in scoring position, paving the way for Jeurys Familia’s 42nd save.
This monumental win puts the Mets 3 ½ games in striking distance of St. Louis for the second wild card spot, and a chance to gain more ground on Wednesday when Jacob deGrom, looking to redeem himself after his dreadful five inning 8 run, 13 hit outing against the Giants, takes the mound.