|Syndergaard-Martinez duel highlights Mets-Cards finale|
If one's baseball tastes run toward 100 mph fastballs and strikeouts, Thursday's series finale between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium might be for you.
Two of the game's hardest throwers square off in a matinee as New York's Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 3.29) matches high heat with Carlos Martinez (2-1, 1.42), exactly four weeks after they met on Opening Day in New York.
Syndergaard had the best of the first matchup, earning a 9-4 win by lasting six innings and fanning 10. He did yield six hits and four runs, getting touched for homers by Yadier Molina and Jose Martinez, but didn't allow a walk.
On the other hand, Carlos Martinez couldn't have run the ball across the plate, doling out six walks in 4 1/3 ragged innings and getting charged with five runs on four hits while fanning five. It dropped him to 3-3 with a 3.08 ERA in nine career outings against the Mets.
However, Martinez has permitted just one run in his last four starts, covering 27 1/3 innings. He's coming off six shutout innings Saturday in a 4-3 win over Cincinnati, ceding just three hits and three walks while whiffing seven.
"Right now, he's on another level," Molina told mlb.com Saturday.
The Opening Day result was Syndergaard's first win in three career decisions against St. Louis (14-9). He dropped a pair of one-run verdicts against the Cardinals in 2015 and 2016, losing the latter game to Martinez in part because of a Jedd Gyorko homer.
Another Gyorko homer against New York (15-7) on Wednesday night not only capped a 9-1 win, but made a bit of history for the infielder. It was the 100th career homer for Gyorko, who started his career in 2012 with San Diego and endured brief demotions to Triple-A in two of his last three seasons with the Padres before finding his niche with the Cardinals.
"It's always cool to get to a number like that," Gyorko said of his 100th long ball, "but it's also cool to have your number called and be able to produce."
Limited to 15 at-bats this year by a hamstring injury, Gyorko has managed seven hits and four RBIs. His blast finished an efficient night for St. Louis, which made the most of its seven hits as the Mets pitched in three errors, two walks and two hit batters.
The one highlight for New York might have been the big-league debut of Corey Oswalt. While he did yield Gyorko's milestone homer, Oswalt also saved the bullpen with 4 2/3 effective innings, allowing two hits and two runs with no walks and four strikeouts.
"I was pretty amped going in there," Oswalt said. "I just tried to go out there and do what I always do -- pound the zone. I made a bad pitch to (Gyorko), but as soon as I did, it was on to the next hitter. It was a cool experience."
The Cardinals might be without center fielder Tommy Pham after he left Wednesday night with a head laceration, suffered while hitting in the indoors cage before his scheduled at-bat in the third inning.