Mets score early and often, then fend off Cards

July 20th, 2017

NEW YORK -- Offensively dormant for most of the second half, Mets outfielder woke up on Wednesday -- and displayed every side of who he is -- in a 7-3 win over the Cardinals.
Featuring freshly dyed blue hair, Cespedes drove home runs in each of his first two at-bats, helping the Mets jump all over Cardinals starter Mike Leake for seven runs in two innings. But fans at Citi Field held their collective breath when trainer Ray Ramirez trotted out to check on Cespedes following his second-inning double, fearing another leg injury for the slugger.
Ultimately, Cespedes stayed in the game, playing all nine innings despite the trainer's visit and -- at one point -- lopsided score. Manager Terry Collins said afterward that Cespedes complained of shortness of breath in the hot, humid conditions at Citi Field.

"I've been working really hard every day," said Cespedes, who entered the game batting .195 in July. "Obviously, things haven't been going great for me. But I'm not going to work any less hard."
New York's early offensive outburst made a winner out of starting pitcher , who improved to 7-0 with a 1.51 ERA in his last seven outings. It also snapped a three-game losing streak for the Mets, as well as their four-game skid against the Cardinals.
With solid start vs. STL, deGrom boosts value
"We've got to keep going at it," Collins said. "We don't know when the streak's going to hit, when we're going to get going. Maybe it starts tonight."
gave St. Louis three shutout innings of relief, and the Cardinals brought the potential tying run to the plate after singled home two runs off in the eighth. But Mets closer struck out to end St. Louis' best threat of the night.

With the loss, Leake fell to 1-6 with a 5.04 ERA over his last 10 starts. He allowed 10 hits, tying a season high, and the two innings marked his shortest outing since 2013.
Defensive lapses, weakness hurt Leake vs. NY
"We couldn't really tell what was going on, exactly," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That was a costly error there with a potential [second-inning] double play, but there were already three runs on the board. We have to try and pick up our guys when we don't make plays. Ten hits in two innings, those will end up costing you. It looked like he had pretty good movement. It was just one of those nights."

Drips and drops: The Mets had no signature blow against Leake, just a steady flow of offense throughout the first two innings. With a man on second base and two outs in the first inning, Cespedes singled to left. Though an accurate throw might have allowed the Cardinals to escape the inning unscathed, Tommy Pham fired well wide of home, allowing the Mets' first run. and followed with run-scoring hits to open up a 3-0 lead.
"They were pretty aggressive," Leake said. "They had a pretty good plan today, coming out attacking. I wasn't leaving balls really center-cut that much. They saw it well and were hitting me early."

New life: The Mets began trotting off the field after deGrom appeared to strike out Voit to end the seventh inning. But after inspecting the baseball for scuff marks, home-plate umpire David Rackley ruled it a dropped foul tip, forcing everyone back to their respective positions. Two pitches later, Voit drilled a double off the left-field wall, giving the Cardinals their first run and chasing deGrom.
"It was frustrating," deGrom said, though he was able to laugh about it. "I told [catcher ], 'Throw that ball in the stands.'"

"If we get red hot, you'll see some more blue hair in that room." -- Collins, on Cespedes' new coiffure
"Just a little miscommunication [with second baseman ]. It's a learning curve playing up the middle with him. I think [third baseman ] saw us both converging, and you saw what happened." -- shortstop , on the confusion that cost the Cardinals a potential double play in the second inning
deGrom improved to 22-12 with a 2.02 ERA in 48 career starts at Citi Field. Only (1.72 ERA) has been better at home since 2014.

Cardinals: Amid speculation about his future as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, will make his 20th start of the season in the series finale at Citi Field on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. CT. Lynn will enter the game having thrown 13 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
Mets:, who has given the Mets quality outings in two of his last three starts, will look to build on that trend when the Mets and Cardinals meet for a 12:10 p.m. ET matinee on Thursday at Citi Field. Lugo pitched in long relief in St. Louis prior to the All-Star break, allowing one run in three innings.
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