Cardinals drop series finale to the Mets after a backbreaking extra innings homer

On the verge of a sweep, the St. Louis Cardinals fell to the New York Mets in heartbreaking fashion in the 11th inning.
St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals have lost all but one series finale to open the 2024 season. They hoped to pull off a series sweep for the first time this year against the New York Mets, but ultimately fell short in an extra-innings thriller. With Lance Lynn on the mound for the Cardinals, it was another disappointing performance by the dormant St. Louis lineup. While Lynn gave a solid outing, with 5 innings of 1-run ball, the Cardinals were just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position against Jose Quintana's 8-inning gem and the rest of the Mets' bullpen.

The Cardinals played small ball and pushed home a run in the 5th inning, but a Francisco Lindor moonshot evened the score in the 6th. With the trio of Romero, Kittredge, and Helsley all unavailable due to usage in the previous two games, the Cardinals turned to Nick Robertson, Giovanny Gallegos, and lastly Matthew Liberatore. Fernandez and Gallegos gave the Cardinals exactly what they needed, and Liberatore looked unhittable for most of his 3-inning outing. However, things became to unravel for the former Cardinals starting pitching prospect in the 11th.

Liberatore stretched out as a starter this Spring but ultimately lost the swingman role to Zack Thompson, so using him for a longer appearance was not surprising. However, once Harrison Bader drove a center-cut pitch for a game-tying single with two strikes, the Mets' lone hit with RISP in 16 tries, Liberatore crumbled. In the following at-bat, he left a 1-2 sinker down the middle which Mark Vientos crushed for a walk-off 2-run homer past the outstretched glove of Michael Siani.

Overall, it was an extremely disappointing loss for the Cardinals trying to come back from a poor start to the regular season. After many tries to get over the .500 mark and out of the NL Central basement for the first time since the dreaded 2023, the Cardinals have repeatedly failed to do so. For fans longing for the team to return to playoff contention, it certainly was a frustrating way to lose. I reacted to many of the gut-wrenching plays with Josh Jacobs and Sandy McMillan on the Dealin' the Cards Podcast this afternoon.

However, signs that the team can perform offensively showed in the first two games of the series so it's not all lost. The Cardinals put up 4 runs and 7 runs in the first two games, and the at-bats from Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Nolan Gorman have looked better in recent performances. Even without the offense producing at a top-tier level, they're off to a much better start than last year thanks to excellent pitching and defense. If the team can get on the right track heading into Detroit, there's hope for them yet.