Mets, Cardinals aim to gain ground in NL wild-card race

MLB

Rich Hill and Adam Wainwright are in line to accomplish something Monday night that hasn’t been done since 2015. But Hill, Wainwright and their teams are surely more focused on a far more immediate and narrow timeline.

The New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals will both be looking to gain ground in the race for the second National League wild card Monday night, when the Mets host the Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series.

The left-handed Hill (6-6, 3.82 ERA) is slated to take the mound for the Mets against the right-handed Wainwright (15-7. 2.98 ERA) in the first duel between starting pitchers aged 40 or older since June 18, 2015, when 42-year-old Bartolo Colon started for the Mets against the Toronto Blue Jays and 40-year-old R.A. Dickey.

Both teams inched closer to the second NL wild card Sunday, when Francisco Lindor hit three homers, including the tie-breaking solo shot in the eighth, to lead the Mets to a 7-6 win over the visiting New York Yankees and Nolan Arenado delivered a two-run homer to lift the host Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds, 2-0.

The victories allowed the Cardinals (73-69) and Mets (72-72) to pull within one game and three games, respectively, in pursuit of the Reds and San Diego Padres, who are in a virtual tie for the second wild card. The Padres had just one baserunner in an 8-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cardinals have won four of their last five games to gain 2 1/2 games on the skidding Reds and Padres.

“Around the stretch they come and we have some closing speed,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.

The Mets have established some momentum after falling out of first place in the NL East during a disastrous August. New York, which lost 19 of its first 25 games in August, is 11-5 since Aug. 28, a span in which it has won four of five series.

“Really excited that we got the win (and) won the series,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “We can carry some momentum moving forward with the games that we have left. We have a pretty good opponent coming in, the Cardinals, that are in the hunt for the same thing that we are.”

Hill, 41, remained winless with the Mets last Wednesday despite allowing one run over six innings in a 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Miami Marlins. The southpaw is 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA in nine games (eight starts) for New York since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays July 23.

Wainwright, who turned 40 on Aug. 30, continued his resurgence Wednesday, when he won his fourth straight start after allowing four runs in 8 1/3 innings in the Cardinals’ 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hill is 4-1 with a 4.38 ERA in nine career games (eight starts) against the Cardinals. Wainwright is 6-6 with a 4.95 ERA in 15 regular-season games (13 starts) against the Mets. He also tossed three scoreless innings of relief and earned saves in Game 5 and Game 7 of the NL Championship Series against New York as a rookie in 2006.

In the most recent matchup of 40-something starting pitchers, Dickey allowed one run over 7 1/3 innings as he out-dueled Colon (seven runs, six earned, in 4 1/3 innings) in the Blue Jays’ 7-1 victory in Toronto.

–Field Level Media

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