NEW YORK — Max Scherzer had a four-run lead in the sixth inning and everything was going well for the New York Mets, as it had all season.
Until the three-time Cy Young Award winner signaled to the bench that he was done.
Scherzer bounced back from a sore left side start Wednesday night before New York finished with an 11-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. He plans to have an MRI on Thursday.
“I don’t think this is a major strain,” Scherzer said. “It was a little tight and then all of a sudden it’s gone. But I don’t feel like I really tore it up. It just got worse. So I’m hoping to get out of there quick enough to avoid a major injury here because I know oblique, intercostal, stuff. they can be unpleasant. I hope I have avoided a serious injury.”
Pete Alonso homered and drove in four runs for the Mets (25-14), who were without starter Jacob deGrom and his effective rotation replacement, Tylor Megill, due to injuries.
Still, they improved to 13-1 after a loss. The only time they lost back-to-back games this season was on April 10-11.
Jeff McNeil hit an early two-run single and Alonso broke a tie at 2 with an RBI single off rookie reliever Jake Walsh (0-1) in a four-run fifth. Dominic Smith singled for a run and Luis Guillorme drove in another on a well-executed safety throw.
The Mets’ batters were hit by pitches three times, raising their major league-leading total to 28. That includes eight of the Cardinals’ pitchers in six games — the teams engaged in a melee to clear the bench in St.Louis last month.
Both clubs were warned Wednesday night after Mark Canha was hit near the ribs by a 98 mph fastball from Cardinals starter Jordan Hicks in the third, but there were no issues between the teams.
Canha scored three times and followed Brandon Nimmo’s 3-pointer with an RBI single as the Mets opened a 6-4 game with a five-run eighth capped by Alonso’s three-run homer off left-hander TJ McFarland.
“He left a changeup and he was ready for it,” McFarland said. “It’s very frustrating, especially with our offense. We need a zero. We had momentum and it’s disappointing for him to come in and allow runs like that.”
Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer for the Cardinals in the eighth. Albert Pujols had two hits to pass Eddie Collins for 10th on the career list with 3,314, including a two-run single off Scherzer (5-1).
The 37-year-old right-hander went with two outs in the sixth on a 1-1 count over Pujols.
“He’s in spasm right now. He’s not feeling too good,” he said after the game, laughing. “But once the spasm goes away, what is the real extent of this injury? We don’t know. So we’ll know tomorrow.”
With two runners ahead, Scherzer hit a slider to the ground and immediately signaled to the New York bench that he was done.
“I felt a spark on my left side and I knew it was over,” he said. “When I felt it, I knew there’s no way you can throw another pitch, so get out of there.”
Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, manager Buck Showalter and a trainer walked out to the mound. After a quick discussion, Scherzer walked off the field.
“I’m not rushing it, because it’s usually not good news,” Showalter said. “He’s been a great self-assessor. He knows when he’s at a point where if he pushes harder, he’s going to turn serious.”
“He’s not going to jeopardize. A lot of guys could have tried to continue throwing. Hopefully we catch whatever’s in there at an earlier stage.”
Scherzer struck out on 61 of 87 pitches and led 6-2 against his hometown team. Adam Ottavino was given all the time he needed to warm up and struck out Pujols to end the inning.
The 42-year-old Pujols, who stole second from Scherzer, also rolled with the score 6-4 and a runner off Seth Lugo to finish the eighth.
Cardinals: Gold Glove 2B Tommy Edman (left calf tightness) was not in the starting lineup after being hit by a pitch Tuesday night. But he entered the fifth when the SS Edmundo Sosa limped off with a slight sprain in his ankle. Sosa winced as he slid to second base when he was caught stealing in the previous inning. He is from day to day. Brendan Donovan moved from second base to shortstop.
Mets: Nimmo was back in the lineup. The leadoff hitter fouled a ball to his right knee in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader and left with a bruised right quad. … RF Starling Marte is expected to rejoin the team on Thursday, but it is unclear if he will be activated in time for the afternoon series finale. Marte is on the mourning list after the death of his grandmother.
Player development instructor Jose Oquendo coached the Cardinals third baseman in place of Ron “Pop” Warner, who is off the team to attend his son’s high school graduation in the St. Louis area. Oquendo previously spent 18 seasons on the Cardinals’ coaching staff, including 16 as third base coach.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Cardinals RHP Dakota Hudson (3-2, 3.06 ERA) faces RHP Chris Bassitt (4-2, 2.34) in the series finale on Thursday afternoon. Bassitt pitched two-hit ball over six innings to win 3-0 on April 26 at St. Louis.