Lugo exits with cramp, but gets 1st MLB win

Mets right-hander leaves stellar start in 6th during warmup pitches

August 25th, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- After rookie starter left the mound in the sixth inning of the Mets' 10-6 win over the Cardinals on Thursday night, manager Terry Collins lingered. As he waited for to jog in from the bullpen, another reliever pressed into emergency duty, Collins remarked to his infielders that "every time I turn around, something unexpected pops up."

This time, at least, the Mets avoided the worst; Lugo was the victim of nothing more than leg cramps, which should not prevent him from making his next start. Consider it fine news for a Mets team that is suddenly leaning on Lugo, with so much of the rest of its rotation nursing injuries.

"I was really impressed, again," Collins said. "Good command of his stuff. They're a tough lineup, boy. They've got some dangerous guys. So I thought he did a nice job."

Prior to his injury, Lugo kept the Cardinals almost completely silent, limiting them to two hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out five batters in the second and third innings alone, mixing a curveball and slider in with his low-90s fastball.

But another hot, humid night in St. Louis -- the game-time temperature was 91 degrees -- ultimately doomed Lugo, who experienced cramping in his right calf as he warmed for the sixth.

"I wanted to stay in, but it's not worth the risk," said Lugo, who also notched his first big league hit -- a single up the middle in the fourth inning.

It certainly wasn't for the Mets, even if it forced them to lean on their bullpen for 16 innings in the three-game series. There is simply too much uncertainty in their rotation these days, with , and all sidelined. Even though Matz is tentatively scheduled to return next week, there's a good chance Lugo will remain part of the rotation; the Mets are looking to give extra rest, meaning Lugo could offer some needed innings.

Needed innings in a pennant race, that is. It's a lot to ask of Lugo, just as it's a lot to ask of and all the other replacements playing critical roles for the Mets down the stretch. But it was Gsellman and Lugo who came away with the two wins in this series, deGrom who came away with the loss. If the Mets are to make a run at October, they'll need contributions from all three of those pitchers, regardless of Lugo's desire to avoid looking at the big picture.

"That's too much," he said. "I just try to keep it simple."