October 5, 2022

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Cards put skirmish aside, claim 1st comeback win

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Well before the Cardinals squared off in the middle of the diamond with the Mets over several players being plunked or pitched inside, they showed a different kind of fight in Wednesday’s series finale at Busch Stadium.

In the throes of their first three-game losing streak of the season, the Cardinals strung together a 15-hit offensive attack and benefited from a jaw-dropping defensive play from Dylan Carlson in a 10-5 victory over the Mets. While some will remember the game for the skirmish between the two sides squaring — and Mets slugger Pete Alonso being flung to the ground — Nolan Arenado preferred to focus on the grit the Cards showed in pulling off their first come-from-behind win of the year.

Arenado was at the center of the late-afternoon fracas when Yoan López’s 94 mph fastball came in high and tight — half an inning after Cardinals reliever Génesis Cabrera drilled New York’s J.D. Davis in the left ankle and knocked him out of the game. Arenado said he went to the plate knowing that he might get plunked, but he took exception to the pitch sailing up and in.

“Listen, I’m not trying to say he tried to throw it up there. Maybe the ball got away, but that’s the problem with that stuff,” said Arenado, who knocked in three runs for a third time this season. “It’s an unfortunate part of the game, but it is part of the game. They won the series and they played better baseball than us, but it was good to come out with the win today.”

St. Louis squandered a 2-0 lead with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning on Monday in a 5-2 loss to the Mets, and it was shut out in a 3-0 defeat on Tuesday. In the latter contest, Alonso was drilled in the helmet by a two-strike changeup from Kodi Whitley, and outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the elbow in the ninth inning with the bases loaded. On Wednesday, the Cardinals got their revenge by rallying from an early 4-1 deficit when starter Steven Matz was knocked around by his former team.

Arenado singled in two runs in the third inning, while Tommy Edman doubled in a run and Carlson tripled in two more in the fourth to give the Cardinals a lead they would not surrender. Their five runs in the fourth and 15 hits overall were season highs, and their 10 runs equaled another mark.

“It was good seeing us come back and battle and rally after being down,” said Arenado, who pushed his RBI total to 17. “I feel like we haven’t done that this year, to come back and rally like that. It was just a really good team win. We came out with some fire, and that was a good step.”

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, who defended Arenado’s anger over being pitched inside by López in the eighth, liked how his team responded to those two earlier losses to the surging Mets.

“That was the definition of competition, because we competed really well,” Marmol said. “That first game against them was a kick in the gut, and the second one they straight up beat us. So to come out the way we did, I enjoyed watching that.”

What Marmol and the crowd of 34,822 at Busch Stadium also enjoyed watching was Carlson’s throw from deep center field in the sixth inning to blunt a potential Mets rally. After having the ball hit over his head by New York’s Luis Guillorme, Carlson hustled back to get the ball off the wall and threw it on the fly to third base to nail the Mets’ second baseman. According to Statcast, Carlson’s throw reached 97.2 mph — second only to Jason Heyward’s 98.5 mph outfield assist on June 7, 2015, among Cardinals since Statcast began tracking that year.

“I knew they were going to be aggressive, and I came up throwing, for sure,” Carlson said. “Honestly, I don’t know – the game just kind of gets you going, and in that situation, I was trying to make an accurate throw.”

In many ways, Wednesday’s game was emblematic of Carlson’s stellar play. He got beat early on it but showed resolve by rallying to throw out the runner. Similarly, the Cardinals fell behind early but kept plucking away and stood up to the feisty Mets late.

“We were going out there to try and win a ballgame — like every day,” Carlson said, “but we definitely wanted this one.”

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