I have to say, Zack Wheeler might have had a little pitch count trouble tonight, but he found his groove and mowed down the Padres for six spectacular innings of one-run ball in this 4-1 Mets victory. The Mets rotation is really starting to put the MLB on notice. With Wheeler starting to blossom and the Mets Minors housing names such as Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, and Gabriel Ynoa — who will eventually join forces with bullpen arms like Jeff Walters, Jack Leathersich, and Jeurys Familia… well. Be scared, NL. Be very scared.
In any case, Wheeler found the strikeout gods and prayed to them pre-game because he set down a career-high dozen men on strikeouts. After finishing the fifth with 99 pitches, Collins sent him out for the sixth inning — for reasons unknown — where he finished the game on 115 pitches. His 115th pitch was a 94 MPH fastball, too. He struck out two in his final frame. He allowed seven hits, which was why I said a few times on Twitter that he wasn’t at his “sharpest” but the results don’t lie. Juan Lagares may have saved him with a throw that was perfectly accurate from center field to gun down a runner early on, too. He is such a joy to watch in the outfield.
For all the heat I give Eric Young on defense, he covers a lot of ground and literally saved a run by knocking a home run ball back into play in the third. He turned a home run into a triple, and Wheeler followed that up with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning. The adrenaline was pumping for me as a fan.
His only earned run allowed crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly. It left the game at 1-1 after an earlier Josh Satin RBI single. Wheeler walked just one batter, which is huge, especially after walking no batters in his last start in ‘Zona. He would receive a no-decision, but he’s now 4-0 on the road with an ERA floating around 2.00. He’s really coming into his own as a pitcher. Scott Atchison backed him up with a perfect inning of relief after.
The Mets would rally for two runs in the top of the eighth when Marlon Byrd went to the opposite field and hit a ball over the right fielder’s head, plating two for the good guys. John Buck blasted a solo home run for insurance for the Mets in the top of the ninth. Gonzalez Germen danced in and out of trouble for two scoreless innings of work for the save — the first of his career.
By the way, for those keeping tabs on the Mets new promotion — the current standing is at 15% off after a dozen from Wheeler and three from Germen. The promotion, for those of you who don’t know, is that the Mets will cut ticket prices for a series later on by 1% for each strikeout the Mets pitchers earn in this four-game series with the Padres. Unfortunately, Jon Niese, Jenrry Mejia, and Matt Harvey have yet to start in this series…are we looking at 50% off?
Jon Niese will start tomorrow in Game Two of the series.