After the White Sox handed the Mets the tying run on a silver platter Tuesday evening, LaTroy Hawkins handed them the winning run in the ninth as Chicago beat New York by a score of 5-4. Nobody ever said the major leagues would be easy for Zack Wheeler and the talented, young righty demonstrated that in his second start, as he struggled with his command and with getting swings and misses over five innings. The Mets' offense, meanwhile, scratched out two runs in the first inning before Chris Sale locked in and dominated the lineup over eight innings.
Tuesday evening's affair with the White Sox got off to an auspicious start when Eric Young Jr, on fire since his acquisition last week, led things off with a double down the left field line. After Jordany Valdespin struck out, some of the lights went out in US Cellular Park due to some thunder and lightning in the area. A short delay paused play for a few minutes before things resumed and the Mets' offense went right to work. David Wright walked and Young stole third, putting runners at the corners for Marlon Byrd, who popped a ball into shallow right field. For an average runner, it was certainly not deep enough to score a run. But with Eric Young's wheels, he was able to beat Alex Rios' throw home to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Josh Satin would expand that lead to 2-0 with a single to center after Wright swiped second base.
Up by two runs, the Mets sent Zack Wheeler out for his second start. After his successful debut against Atlanta a week ago, Wheeler seemed poised to feast on a weak White Sox lineup but that's not what happened. Alejandro De Aza reached base on a weak single to second base, stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and then scored on another groundout. In the third inning, Tyler Flowers ripped a home run to center field to tie things up. Wheeler's stuff looked good but he had some trouble with command and with putting away hitters. Ron Darling noted during the broadcast that he may've been slowing down his arm and tipping his curveball. In general, he was throwing more offspeed than he did in his debut, a game plan that seemed to take away from his fastball. He also seemed to be squeezed a bit by the home plate umpire early on, though that was an issue outside of Wheeler's control.
While Wheeler pitched like a pitcher making his second big league start, Sale settled in nicely and was incredibly dominant from innings two through eight. Aside from an Andrew Brown home run in the 5th which gave the Mets a temporary 3-2 lead, Sale allowed just one other hit while striking out 11 batters in that span. Overall, the lefty fanned 13 Mets and was mighty impressive. Wheeler was unable to hold onto the one run lead provided to him as the Sox scratched across two in the fifth and put runners on base in the sixth before Carlos Torres came on to snuff out the rally.
Fast forward to the top of the ninth, Chris Sale was removed for closer Addison Russell who allowed a leadoff base hit to David Wright. Wright swiped second base with no outs but Marlon Byrd struck out and Josh Satin flew out to Jordan Danks in center field, who made a nice running catch to take away what looked like a sure hit. With two outs and the tying run at third, the Mets turned to Daniel Murphy as their last hope and Murphy popped straight up on the infield in front of the pitcher's mound. Luckily for the Mets, second baseman Gordon Beckham collided with third baseman Conor Gillaspie, allowing the ball to drop and Wright to miraculously score with the tying run.
Sadly, the fun would be over for the Mets. Tied headed into the bottom of the ninth, Terry Collins turned to LaTroy Hawkins who allowed a leadoff infield single and then flubbed a sacrifice bunt, putting two men on base. After Tyler Flowers grounded into a fielder's choice erasing the runner at second, Hawkins got a big out getting De Aza to foul out to third base. With two outs and a sliver of hope remaining of getting out of the jam, Alexei Ramirez lined a ball down the line in left field that just barely stayed fair, giving the White Sox a 5-4 walk-off win and putting the Mets out of their misery.
SB Nation Coverage
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* South Side Sox Gamethread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Daniel Murphy (34.3%), David Wright (18.5%)
Big losers: LaTroy Hawkins (-35.2%), Zack Wheeler (-26.4)
Teh aw3s0mest play: Daniel Murphy reaches on an error in the ninth scoring the tying run (30.5%)
Teh sux0rest play: Alexei Ramirez's walk-off single in the ninth (-35.9%)
Total pitcher WPA: -41.7%
Total batter WPA: -8.3%