It had been a while since a member of the Mets’ starting rotation had a great outing, but on Tuesday night at Citi Field, Zack Wheeler snapped that undesirable streak with a very good performance against the organization that drafted him. Throw in the fact that the Mets’ lineup had another good night, and it made for a stress-free win for the good guys.
That win also gave the Mets their fourth-straight series win, as the team took two of three from the Nationals, Braves, and Marlins before playing the Giants. And now they have the opportunity to sweep San Francisco in the matinee series finale at Citi Field today.
Wheeler pitched six innings, and although he walked four and got his pitch count up—two things that aren’t exactly out of character for him—he gave up just one run on two hits. He struck out four along the way, which isn’t all that many, but things worked out okay for him in the end.
And at the plate, the Mets took a big lead with four runs in the first inning, two of which scored on what was officially scored a Neil Walker triple—a ball hit in the air toward left field that Eduardo Nuñez misplayed badly. Jose Reyes and Rene Rivera drove in a run apiece in that inning two, and Rene wasn’t the only Rivera who had a good night. T.J. Rivera went three-for-four with a run scored and a run batted in, too, and it’s worth pointing out that Rene himself went 2-for-4.
Wilmer Flores had a two-hit night, too, and Michael Conforto tacked on an insurance run late in the game with a solo home run, his eighth home run of the season. He and T.J. Rivera have good-looking batting lines at this stage of the season.
It might feel a little odd to see the Giants looking as down as they do right now, but there’s no shame in the Mets beating a team that they should beat. After a repetitive month of cycling National League East opponents, it’s a breath of fresh air to see the team play outside the division and send the team that defeated them in the Wild Card game last year further into its downward spiral. Perhaps the two teams will compete again in a significant context by season’s end. But for now, as banged up as they are, the Mets look like the clearly superior team.
With the Tuesday night win, the Mets returned to .500 with a 16-16 record. And with another Nationals loss to the Orioles, the Mets pulled to within 4.5 games of first place in the division. That might not sound like much, but given the way things have gone for the Mets and their primary rival, things could look a whole lot worse than they do this morning.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Zack Wheeler, +14.9% WPA, Neil Walker, +13.2% WPA
Big losers: none
Teh aw3s0mest play: Neil Walker “triples” to drive in two runs in the first, +14.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Curtis Granderson fouls out in the first, -4.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +18.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: +31.1% WPA
GWRBI!: Neil Walker