Zack Wheeler lasted just five innings as the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets 6-2 to win the three-game interleague series.
Wheeler, now 4-2, lost for the first time in six starts. He gave up four runs — three earned — and issued five walks in his ninth start of the season. The young righty seemed to come unglued in the fifth after Marlon Byrd lost a ball in the sun and John Buck let a couple of pitches get by him. He walked three in that inning, threw a wild pitch, a passed ball, and when it was all over three runs had crossed the plate.
Wheeler also let up another home run, this time to Mike Moustakas who drilled a fast ball over the wall in right-center. Wheeler is now 1-2 with a 5.76 ERA at Citi Field and has failed to go into the seventh inning in seven of his nine starts.
Terry Collins was very dissatisfied with Wheeler’s performance and ripped into him after the game, saying that it was time for Wheeler to start bearing down and taking control of the game. Despite the flubs on the field by his teammates, Collins said that Wheeler needs to know that he has to pick his teammates up too, just like they picked him up in his last start with spectacular plays and clutch hits.
“Today was one of those days I wanted to see Zack Wheeler step up, execute and take control of a game. He needed to tell his teammates, I got this and this stops here. I’m not saying he pitched bad, but he’s got to step up like we know he’s capable of. He needs to do that.”
“Once in a while you got to reach back and say, ‘Hey, I’m picking [my teammate] up today. He dives and makes a catch for me last week or gets a big hit, today I’m picking him up.’ And that’s when you really start earning the respect of your teammates,” Collins said.
“I’m not saying Zack wasn’t giving us effort. I’m just saying at that particular time, that would’ve been the time to get off the mound, and say ‘This is it boys. This is going to be mine. I might be coming out after this inning, but this inning is going to be shut down.’”
Bobby Ojeda emphatically disagreed with Collins and said to hammer a young pitcher like that was completely uncalled for. His main concern was why Wheeler was topping out at 91 mph after the second inning, something that Ron Darling also noted and expressed concern about.
The Mets were just as bad at the plate as they were in the field. The only runs came on RBI-singles by Buck and Eric Young Jr. and they left ten men on base. Wilmer Flores leads the PCL with 87 RBIs, have I mentioned that lately?
The Boo Birds at Citi Field had no mercy for Marlon Byrd who had an error and lost a ball in the sun. When Byrd struck out with the Mets trailing 4-1 in the fifth and the bases loaded, he was booed loudly even though he was 1-for-4 with a double and run scored. Tough crowd…
Personally, I think Collins should be ashamed of himself for publicly picking apart Wheeler the way he did. It’s just another reason why he needs to go because after the way I’ve seen him handle Ruben Tejada from the very beginning, Jordany Valdespin this season and last, Juan Lagares and Josh Satin, and now Zack Wheeler, it’s apparent he’s not cut out to lead these new young Mets the rest of the way. I wish he’d be as bold and brazen like that with his veterans like Ike Davis, who has never once got a kick in the ass by Collins when he deserved it.
The Mets are now 0-2 without David Wright who is expected to be sidelined for three to five weeks. They can’t afford to make any mistakes or give-away free outs to the opposition like they did in the last two games. This is going to be a tough stretch from here on in – a stretch that will test the mental toughness of this team – and the sanity of Terry Collins who already seems to be in deterioration mode. I just hope he doesn’t take down any of our players with him…
The Mets are off on Monday and then host Colorado on Tuesday with Jenrry Mejia (1-1, 2.08 ERA) opposing Tyler Chatwood (7-4, 3.15) at 7:10 p.m.