If the needle on Tylor Megill’s gas gauge finally reached “E” on Wednesday, it’s certainly understandable.
The rookie right-hander arrived to the major leagues this year without having thrown more than 71 ²/₃ innings during a season in his career. He’s nearly doubled that total between the minor leagues and the Mets this year, with 2 ¹/₂ weeks still remaining in the season.
On this night, he barely escaped the first inning against the Cardinals and was thumped in one of his worst starts of the season, contributing heavily to the Mets’ 11-4 loss at Citi Field.
The Cardinals completed a three-game sweep to remain ahead of the pack in the race for the NL’s second wild card. The Mets fell five games behind in that chase.
The Mets (72-75) have been on life support since an August stretch in which they lost 11 of 13 games against the Giants and Dodgers, but they finally appear finished. Any hope generated by two victories in three games against the Yankees last weekend was erased by a Cardinals team that is peaking at an opportune time.
There was a moment of hope for the Mets in the seventh, when Pete Alonso — with two runners on base — blasted a shot to right field that had a chance to become his second homer of the night. But Lars Nootbar reached above the fence for the catch and a dejected Alonso crouched in disappointment between first and second base.
Seth Lugo surrendered solo homers to Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado that had extended the Cardinals’ lead to 8-3. Edmundo Sosa went deep against Heath Hembree in the eighth for the Cardinals’ fourth homer of the game.
Megill — who has logged 131 innings between Double-A Binghamton, Triple-A Syracuse and the Mets this season — got jumped immediately, allowing five earned runs in the first inning, with the Cardinals sending nine batters to the plate.
After Tommy Edman drew a leadoff walk, Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill delivered consecutive doubles that put the Mets in a 2-0 hole. Arenado walked and Yadier Molina hit into a double play before the Cardinals continued their rally. Dylan Carlson’s RBI single extended the Mets’ deficit to 3-0. Sosa and Harrison Bader then singled in succession, with the last of those hits driving in two runs. Megill finally struck out Jon Lester to escape the inning.
Megill’s final line included six earned runs on nine hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He allowed his final run of the night in the fourth on Bader’s leadoff homer that buried the Mets in a 6-2 hole.
Alonso’s 33rd homer of the season, a blast leading off the second, had pulled the Mets within 5-1. Lester surrendered an unearned run in the second, when Jeff McNeil reached on a leadoff double and scored on the shortstop Sosa’s fielding error on Francisco Lindor’s grounder.
Kevin Pillar blasted a two-out solo homer in the sixth that sliced the Cardinals’ lead to 6-3. The homer was Pillar’s 15th of the season and fifth in his past 17 games. Pillar has spent the past 1 ¹/₂ weeks as the starting center fielder with Brandon Nimmo on the injured list with a strained right hamstring.