It wasn’t a pretty one for Zack Wheeler on Friday, as the right-hander surrendered five runs in the first inning to put the Mets in a hole they couldn’t pull themselves out of.
Wheeler actually pitched into the seventh inning, but scattered three more runs to raise his ERA to an ugly 5.79 on the season. He looked better as the game progressed, but was not the antidote the Mets needed to fight their losing streak.
“I’ve kind of always had trouble in the first inning,” Wheeler said. “I need to figure that out. I think it’s a little preparation, maybe, throwing too many pitches in the bullpen and being a little tired when I do get out there.”
In that first inning, Wheeler allowed six of the first seven batters to reach base. Five of them scored.
“We have to be proactive in getting [Wheeler] ready to go out and compete from pitch one,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “I think you see a lower velocity, not as crisp of stuff. So he’s got to go out there and close every inning.”
The 27-year-old also yielded two home runs and allowed 10 hits in his poor outing, but it was the early frames that were his, and the Mets, undoing. He pitched into the seventh inning, but the results speak for themselves.
“We don’t care how deep in a game he goes,” Callaway said. “He has to pitch as effectively as possible.”
The Mets rallied late, but it proved to be fruitless. Michael Conforto came to the dish with runners on the corners and two outs. Todd Frazier then stole second so a single could win the game, but the struggling Conforto struck out to end the game.
“There’s gonna be other opportunities for me to come through and win the game for this team,” Conforto said. “Eventually it’s gonna turn.”