On a day billed as Super Tuesday, the Real Deal and the Wheel Deal became running mates that Mets fans hope to support for years to come. Just hours after Matt Harvey held the Braves hitless into the seventh inning, Zack Wheeler kept Atlanta off the scoreboard through six frames, picking up the victory in his much-anticipated major league debut, as the Mets defeated the Braves, 6-1, to take both ends of a day-night doubleheader at Turner Field.
With his parents in attendance, Wheeler went after the Braves with an assortment of blazing fastballs and tantalizing sliders. Atlanta’s hitters had trouble putting the ball in play, as Wheeler struck out five batters and walked four through the first three innings. But any jitters Wheeler might have had in his first three innings dissipated over his next three, as the neophyte settled down from innings four through six, walking only one batter, while striking out two and inducing a rally-killing double play from Jason Heyward in the fifth.
As great as Wheeler was, the game was still scoreless entering the seventh inning. At 102 pitches, Wheeler was clearly running out of gas. Fortunately for him and for the team, his battery mate was still fresh, as Anthony Recker’s two-run homer to straightaway center gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. After Scott Atchison injured himself while warming up to start the seventh, Brandon Lyon came into the game in relief and promptly allowed the Braves to cut the lead in half. But that was as close as Atlanta got, as the Mets added four insurance runs in the eighth and David Aardsma pitched two scoreless innings to close out Wheeler’s first win in the majors.
Wheeler pitched six innings, allowing no runs on four hits. He walked five and struck out seven.
In the doubleheader, Harvey and Wheeler combined to pitch 13 innings, allowing three runs (all of which scored after Harvey was removed from the game). Atlanta’s hitters managed just seven hits off the Dynamic Duo and struck out 20 times.
In 1986, the band Timbuk3 became one-hit wonders with the song, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”. With Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler both earning victories today, the bright future for the Mets may have finally arrived. Get your shades ready, Mets fans, because I think Harvey and Wheeler are not going to be one-hit wonders. But other teams might be lucky to get one hit against them.
From The Department of “I Did Not Know That”:
- Zack Wheeler walked five batters and struck out seven while pitching six shutout innings. Only eight pitchers in Mets history had ever pitched at least six shutout innings with 5+ walks and 7+ strikeouts. Nolan Ryan accomplished the feat three times – once in 1968 and twice in 1970. The other seven players to accomplish this rare feat include some of the best pitchers in franchise history. Those pitchers are Jerry Koosman (1968), Buzz Capra (1972), Sid Fernandez (1985), Bobby Jones (1993), Armando Reynoso (1998), Al Leiter (2000) and Johan Santana (2012). And yes, the Johan Santana effort in 2012 was his no-hitter.
- Although this was the Mets’ fifth doubleheader played at Turner Field since the park opened in 1997, it’s the first time they’ve ever recorded a doubleheader sweep at Turner Field. The Mets had not swept a doubleheader in Atlanta since July 7, 1987, when Ron Darling and Terry Leach won both ends of a twinbill at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium.
- David Wright recorded the 1,500th hit of his career with a ninth inning single. The only other current Met with more than 500 career hits in a Mets uniform is Daniel Murphy, who has 542 hits.
- Although Bobby Parnell was not needed to pitch in the nightcap, the closer did record his 10th save of the season in the first game of the doubleheader. In doing so, he became the first homegrown Mets closer to record ten saves in a single season since Anthony Young saved 15 games for the Mets in 1992.