NEW YORK -- Before resuming Thursday’s suspended game in the bottom of the ninth, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter told his teammates that they were going to win the game in 20 minutes.
It ended up being 18.
In the top of the 10th inning on Friday -- after the game was suspended in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied Thursday -- Yairo Muñoz singled to lead off and stole second, before Paul DeJong brought him home with an RBI single to give St. Louis the lead. Jordan Hicks notched the save, and the Cardinals took the series opener, 5-4, at Citi Field.
The bottom of the ninth inning started on Friday with Carlos Martinez on the mound for the Cardinals. The right-hander was officially in the game when the rain delay started, so he stayed in and retired the side to send the game to extra innings.
“I think we came out with more energy, more focus, all it took was one inning,” DeJong said. “It was a team inning. Carlos did his job, got three outs, then Munoz getting on base first, stealing second, Carp getting him over, giving me a chance for an RBI. Good execution on all parts.”
As for how the Cardinals got to the continuation of a tie game in the first place, it had to do with a player familiar with New York: center fielder Harrison Bader, who dazzled in his first game back in his hometown. If it weren't for Bader, there would have been no need for the continuation of the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday.
The 25-year-old native of Bronxville, N.Y., tied the game with a two-out RBI double to left field in the top of the ninth. He slipped on a wet infield rounding second base and was tagged out to send the game to the bottom of the inning -- before the tarp went on the field.
Hitting in pouring rain isn’t easy, but that didn’t concern Bader.
“Mind over matter,” Bader said. “If you don’t mind it, it don’t matter. That’s how it rolls.”
There was some confusion on Thursday as to whether the game would be delayed before the top of the ninth. The tarp was beginning to be unrolled, but Mets players were on the field and Cardinals manager Mike Shildt and Mets manager Mickey Callaway came to talk to the umpires.
Then the rain lightened up, so the grounds crew decided to try Diamond Dry on the field before play resumed. But with puddles forming in the infield and around home plate, crew chief Jeff Kellogg said it wasn’t going to be playable.
“If you can get the game in and you're playing in the conditions that are suitable to play in, I think you try to do that,” Kellogg said. “But once it became where it's not, then I think you got to say, 'OK, let's stop.' It wasn't an easy one. Sometimes they're tough. They're not easy. Some are easy, some aren't.”
“I just want to make sure we’re informed and if there’s going to be a dialogue, that I’m involved with it,” Shildt added. “I don’t pretend to be a weatherman, I don’t pretend to be an umpire. I just want to make sure we’re talking through it, we know what’s going on. If they tell us to play, we’ll play. We’ll play in the rain, we’ll play in the street.”
Bader’s ninth-inning double wasn’t his only feat of the night. He ripped a double just fair down the right-field line and a single up the middle. He stole two bases -- one in the third inning to get on third base for Carpenter’s RBI single in the third inning.
Bader also started a double play in the bottom of the sixth inning that held the Mets to just one run after loading the bases. He caught a deep fly ball over his shoulder, stopped at the warning track and fired it down the third-base line to Carpenter, who got it to Wong at third and ended the inning.
The Cardinals center fielder had 150 guests from his high school -- Horace Mann in the Bronx -- and his family in attendance Thursday night. When the Cardinals opened last season in New York, Bader had yet to be called up from Triple-A Memphis.
“I can’t make it a bigger deal than it is for me,” Bader said. “I have to approach it just like another game, which is what I did. The only difference is I have a few more people in the stands.”