New York has been dominated by St. Louis in the first two games by a combined 26-7 count, including a 13-4 defeat on Wednesday.
“They pounded the ball tonight,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “If you don’t keep them in the yard, you’re in trouble.”
The Mets have lost four in a row, getting outscored 39-11, and are in last place in the NL East despite a $117 million payroll. Although they didn’t make any official errors, the Mets, who had committed 10 errors in the previous three games, made several misplays.
Left fielder Cliff Floyd gave up on Woody Williams’ fly ball over his head at the warning track for a double in the second, first baseman Mo Vaughn only flailed at Pujols’ foul pop fly in the second and three fielders converged slowly on Jim Edmonds’ bloop double to left in the first.
“That’s just an inability to get to the ball,” Howe said. “We just can’t get there.”
St. Louis has been heading in the right direction, as Wednesday’s win put the team above the .500 mark for the first time since April 20.
Vina had been in a 2-for-20 slump and got a day off on Tuesday. He’s been taking extra batting practice and also shaved off his goatee.
“He’s such a hungry hitter,” La Russa said. “If you make a mistake, he’s liable to get you.”
STANDINGS: Mets - 5th place, 6 GB, NL East. Cardinals - 2nd place, 1 GB, NL Central.
METS PROBABLE STARTER: Steve Trachsel (0-1, 4.82 ERA). New York had dropped each of Trachsel’s starts this season until coming away with a 4-3 win over Arizona on Friday. The right-hander did not register a decision, despite allowing three runs and nine hits over six innings. Trachsel is 9-7 with a 4.63 ERA in 22 career starts against the Cardinals.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Brett Tomko (2-2, 4.46 ERA). Tomko is coming off his first complete game of the season, allowing just two runs and nine hits in a 9-2 win at Florida on Friday. The right-hander had a career-high three complete games last season. He is 2-7 with a 6.64 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mets - Mike Piazza, .300 avg.; Tony Clark, 4 HRs; Mo Vaughn, 15 RBIs; Ty Wigginton, 16 runs; Roger Cedeno, 3 SBs. Cardinals - Edmonds, .389 avg.; Pujols. Edmonds and Scott Rolen, 5 HRs; Renteria, 24 RBIs and 20 runs; Vina, 3 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Cardinals, 2-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mets - C Piazza was out of the lineup Wednesday with inflammation in his left knee, another blow to the Mets’ struggling offense. Piazza has raised his average from .147 on April 15 to .300 by hitting .444 (16-for-36) with three homers, five doubles and all five of his RBIs. … The Mets recalled RHP Jason Middlebrook from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned LHP Jaime Cerda down. … RHP Trachsel has allowed 47 baserunners (36 hits, 11 walks) in his 28 innings. Cardinals - 3B Rolen is just 3-for-24 in his career against Trachsel. … C Mike Matheny is the only current Cardinal with a career home run against Trachsel. … On Thursday, the Cardinals will be free to negotiate a major league contract with LHP Chuck Finley, a big addition to the NL Central champions last year.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mets - 3-9 on the road; Cardinals - 6-4 at home.
INJURIES: Mets - OF Jeromy Burnitz (hand), 15-day DL; RHP David Cone (hip), 15-day DL; LHP John Franco (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Grant Roberts (shoulder), 15-day DL. Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Isringhausen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (pelvis), 15-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.