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Joey Lucchesi, Francisco Lindor struggle as Mets fall to Cardinals

Mets starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi throws during the

Mets starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi throws during the first inning of a game against the Cardinals on Monday in St. Louis. Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson

ST. LOUIS — The Mets are ready for you, Carlos Carrasco.

They lost to the Cardinals, 6-5, on Monday after another short and ineffective outing from Joey Lucchesi and another hapless night at the plate by Francisco Lindor.

Lucchesi allowed six runs in 2 2/3 innings. Lindor went 0-for-4 with a walk, two strikeouts and six runners left on base. Dominic Smith made the final out, flying out to leftfield to strand the potential tying and go-ahead runs.

"We were probably due for not a great outing from a starter," said Kevin Pillar, whose two-run home run in the third was his second long ball in as many nights. "But we still put ourself in a position to tie the game, go ahead late in the game."

 

Most games this season, five runs would be enough for a win for the Mets (11-12). Not with Lucchesi on the mound. In four games (three starts), he has a 10.13 ERA and 1.59 WHIP.

Carrasco is scheduled to pitch six innings in a scrimmage Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, Florida. With his comeback from a torn right hamstring nearly complete, Carrasco might join the Mets for his next start, manager Luis Rojas said, though a formal rehabilitation assignment with a minor-league team also is an option.

Either way, Carrasco — penciled in as the Mets’ No. 2 starter before being slowed by physical issues during spring training — appears close to making his team debut.

Lucchesi, meanwhile, was the answer to a question the Mets had mulled for days: In need of a fifth starter, did they prefer the lefthander on their taxi squad or a bullpen game? After a heavy weekend workload for the relievers, the Mets opted for Lucchesi.

"We’re in the need of innings right now," Rojas said before the game.

It didn’t work out that way, basically becoming both a Lucchesi start and a bullpen game.

Lucchesi navigated most of the early innings well enough but ran into trouble with two outs and two strikes in the third. He thought the inning was over, taking several steps toward the Mets’ dugout, but Nolan Arenado nicked a breaking ball in the dirt, keeping the at-bat going.

"I struck him out, thought I made my pitch, I was walking toward the dugout and I guess they said he foul-tipped it, which I didn’t think so," Lucchesi said. "But then after the game I talked to [catcher Tomas] Nido. He said he did foul-tip it. Not much I can do about that. I thought I had him, though."

Then Arenado launched a tying three-run home run to left-center. And Paul DeJong doubled off the rightfield wall. And Tyler O’Neill doubled to left-center for a St. Louis lead. That six-pitch sequence ended Lucchesi’s outing.

"It happened quick," Rojas said.

The Mets got to Adam Wainwright — the mere mention of whom still elicits visceral reactions for Mets fans 15 years after his curveball to Carlos Beltran — for five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He helped out in the second inning by hitting Nido with a pitch and walking Jeff McNeil, each with the bases loaded, to account for two runs.

Sprinkled throughout the night were more unsatisfying plate appearances for Lindor, who is 0-for-his-last-21.

He struck out in the first. He struck out with the bases loaded in the second. He popped out to third in the fourth. He grounded out to second with two on and two out in the sixth. And he walked in the ninth.

Tuesday marks one week since his most recent hit, a soft ground ball to Red Sox pitcher Garrett Richards that went for a single.

Rojas said Monday afternoon that he has not considered dropping Lindor from his usual No. 2 spot in the lineup.

"No, no, not yet. I’m pretty set right now with him batting there," he said. "It’s for the balance of the first few batters, the switch-hitting ability, his ability to run, his ability to do a lot of things — even though he’s not contributing at a rate that we expect him to do. I think guys can benefit because of that."

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