Sometimes, you lose a baseball game early. And with the worst start Zack Wheeler has ever had in the big leagues, the Mets did just that on Tuesday night against the Cubs, ending their four-game winning streak and making this particular series a split through two games.
Wheeler has been great for the Mets this season, but this start was a major exception. He gave up a leadoff home run to Anthony Rizzo, who was batting there in Joe Maddon’s lovably quirky lineup—at least for those who like fawning over the Cubs—but rebounded nicely with back-to-back-to-back strikeouts. But after the Mets tied the game on a Yoenis Cespedes double in the bottom of the first, Wheeler fell off in the second.
With two outs, a runner on first, and Jon Lester—batting eighth—at the plate, Wheeler gave up a single to the pitcher and then walked Albert Almora Jr. to loaded the bases for Rizzo. He and Rizzo battled, but Wheeler ultimately walked him with the bases loaded and then proceeded to give up a grand slam to Ian Happ. And just in case there were any doubt about where the game was headed, Wheeler was left in to give up two more runs before Terry Collins mercifully pulled him from the game.
Josh Smoker soaked up four innings from there, throwing a staggering 81 pitches in the process—nineteen more pitches than Wheeler himself threw in his one-and-two-thirds innings of work. Smoker gave up three runs, though that’s perfectly understandable in that context, before giving way to Neil Ramriez, who gave up one run of his own in two-and-a-third. Josh Edgin finished things off by allowing two runs in the ninth, his lone inning.
Neil Walker and Lucas Duda hit back-to-back solo home runs to begin the bottom of the ninth, but the Mets fell short of the eleven additional solo home runs they would have needed to tie the game.
SB Nation GameThreads
Bleed Cubbie Blue
Win Probability Added
Big winners: none
Big losers: Zack Wheeler, -52.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Yoenis Cespedes doubles to tie the game in the bottom of the first, +7.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Ian Happ hits a grand slam in the second, -26.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -52.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: +2.9% WPA
GWRBI!: Ian Happ