The Mets spent the weekend going hard to win two of three from the Yankees in an emotionally charged series.
On Monday, the hangover was real.
The offense that scored 24 runs in three Subway Series games went silent and the Cardinals ran away with the game late as the Mets fell, 7-0 in front of 19,057 at Citi Field.
The matchup offered the Mets (72-73) a chance to make up some ground on one of the teams they trailed in the NL wild-card race — where they were suddenly closer to a potential playoff spot than they were within their own division — with five teams separated by three games for one spot entering Monday.
Instead, the Cardinals (74-69) inched closer to the final wild card that the Padres were clinging onto with a late game while the Mets failed to keep their momentum going with 17 games now left to play.
“Guys were quiet, but we got shut out,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We’ve been hitting pretty good. Today we had two innings where we [threatened] to score. Other than that, nothing happened. It seemed like, probably when you see the offense not getting going like it happened tonight, you could probably say the energy was down. But we just didn’t score.”
Trailing 3-0 in the eighth inning, with thunderstorms rolling in, the Mets threatened to make a late comeback. A Francisco Lindor walk and Michael Conforto single put runners on the corners with no outs. But Cardinals reliever Alex Reyes locked in to strike out Pete Alonso, Javier Baez and Jeff McNeil to escape the jam.
The Mets fell to 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before the Cardinals capitalized on another rally in the ninth inning to blow the game open. Nolan Arenado, Yadier Molina, Edmundo Sosa and Harrison Bader each chipped in RBI singles — the first three off Yennsy Diaz and the last off Trevor Williams — to put the game out of reach.
In a battle of 40-plus-year-old starting pitchers, Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright got the upper hand by limiting the Mets to four hits over six shutout innings. Rich Hill countered with a serviceable start for the Mets, giving up three runs over five innings, but it wasn’t enough.
“It’s something that doesn’t sit well with me,” said Hill, who gave up single runs in the second, third and fifth innings. “I understand we’re up against it right now, we gotta win ballgames. Not going out there and putting us in the best position possible, it stings.”
Before coming up empty in the eighth — one of six straight Mets strikeouts to end the game — McNeil had failed to come through in the first inning when the Mets left the bases loaded. Wainwright struck him out on three pitches and later poured some salt in Mets’ fans wounds.
“I like nostalgia, and I felt like all the Mets fans in a bases-loaded situation wanted to see me throw two curveballs and a changeup,” Wainwright said in a reference to fanning Carlos Beltran with the bases juiced to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. “Just gave the people what they wanted.”
After wasting a prime scoring chance in the first inning, the Mets didn’t put another runner in scoring position until the fifth inning. They had runners on the corners with two outs, but Conforto smoked a line drive right into the glove of Paul Goldschmidt at first base to end the threat. The Mets hit into more bad luck in the seventh inning as Jonathan Villar lined into an inning-ending double play.
“It’s scoreboard-watching time of the year right now,” Hill said. “Everybody’s very aware of where we are. Being where we are in the wild card and also in the division, it just comes down to what we can control. We have to take care of our business and win ballgames.”