ST. LOUIS — By at least one measure, this is officially the Mets’ best start to a season in their more than six decades of existence.
With a 3-0 win against the Cardinals on Tuesday night, they locked up a sixth consecutive series victory, their longest such streak to begin a year. They’ll play the finale Wednesday afternoon, Carlos Carrasco against Steven Matz, but they have guaranteed themselves at least two out of three — and handed St. Louis its first series loss in the process.
“Awesome. We started fast,” Chris Bassitt said. “But I’m more excited about the last six series of the year rather than the first six.”
Owner Steve Cohen tweeted immediately after the final out: “This team just continues to roll.”
The Mets (14-5) can’t — and haven’t publicly — get ahead of themselves. They need only to remember the previous record-holders, the 2018 Mets, to learn that success this early means little if they can’t sustain it. That club was toiling by June and accomplished nothing.
But this version has offered a lot to like so far, and that was true again this time. Bassitt struck out six in six scoreless innings. Batterymate James McCann went 3-for-3 for his first multi-hit game of the year.
Pete Alonso endured another scare in the eighth inning when Kodi Whitley’s changeup hit him in the head, sending his helmet flying and him to the ground. He popped up quickly and jawed at Whitley on his way to first base as manager Buck Showalter and some of the Mets filtered out of the dugout. The Cardinals remained in theirs. Cooler heads prevailed after several tense seconds.
This was the second beaning of the season for Alonso, who was hit in the face by the Nats’ Mason Thompson on April 7.
Adam Ottavino hit Tommy Edman with a slider in the bottom of the eighth. Starling Marte was hit by Aaron Brooks — with the bases loaded, for the second time in three days — in the ninth.
Mets batters lead the majors with 18 HBPs. Next closest are the Orioles, Rockies and Padres, who have 11. “Without getting into right and wrong and intent and what have you, you reach a point where it’s about safety of your players,” Showalter said. “It’s one thing to get hit on a toe or the knee. We’re getting a lot of balls on the head or the neck. It’s just not good. Not good.”
Alonso did not speak to reporters after this game.
Bassitt called out MLB for not doing anything to help pitchers get a better grip on the baseballs, which he said are “bad” in their feel and consistency.
“MLB has a very big problem with the baseballs,” he said. “They’re bad. Everyone knows it. Every pitcher in the league knows it. They’re bad. They don’t care. MLB doesn’t give a damn about it. They don’t care. We’ve told them our problems with them. They don’t care.”
Bassitt was a bit wild — walking three batters and hitting another — but it worked out for him. The Cardinals (9-7) managed only two hits against him. They never had a runner reach third base.
The most important swing of the game may have been one that resulted in an out during a nondescript top of the second.
Dominic Smith rocketed a 100-mph line drive directly back to righthander Jordan Hicks, who deflected it with his right wrist. Hicks remained in the game but only briefly. The wrist seemed to be an issue in the third, when all three of his batters reached base — Jeff McNeil double, McCann double, Brandon Nimmo walk — before the trainer came to check on him again, this time removing him from the game.
X-rays on Hicks’ wrist were negative, the Cardinals announced.
The damage on the scoreboard was done, however. McCann put the Mets ahead with a booming fly ball over the head of centerfielder Harrison Bader.
“I told you four or five days ago that he was close to getting it going,” Showalter said of McCann. “He had some big at-bats for us. And I’ll tell you, he caught a shutout tonight. A really good one, too.”