Although they really tried to turn their second of two games in Texas into a signature 2017 loss, the New York Mets were able to avoid catastrophe and beat the Rangers on Wednesday night.
They wouldn’t have been able to win the game if not for Zack Wheeler. With the excellent Yu Darvish on the mound for the Rangers, the odds that the Mets would rack up runs were very low. And after Darvish threw a scoreless top of the first, Wheeler immediately loaded the bases on a single, a walk, and another single.
From there, he got a ground ball that the Mets failed to turn into a double play, though they got one out at second base. That plated the Rangers’ run—their only one against Wheeler—but didn’t phase the pitcher much, as he induced another grounder that the Mets turned into an inning-ending double play.
Wheeler’s pitch count was up, but he looked like a completely different pitcher the rest of the way. Without getting into much trouble along the way, he threw seven innings, gave up just that one aforementioned run, and threw just 108 pitches. Of those, 72 were strikes, and as a result of his great start, Wheeler finished the night with a 3.45 ERA on the season. Of the team’s pitchers not named Noah Syndergaard—or just the pitchers who are currently healthy—he has undoubtedly been the best.
Of course, Wheeler wasn’t the only Met who had a good night. With Darvish on the mound, Jay Bruce was the difference in the game—at least for a while. While Darvish struck out nine in seven-and-one-third innings, he gave up a pair of home runs to Bruce, the first of which turned the Mets’ one-run deficit into a one-run lead and just barely cleared the fence in right field in the fourth. The second was a solo shot to left field in the sixth that gave the Mets an insurance run they sorely needed.
Jerry Blevins took over for Wheeler after his great start and wound up giving up a two-run home run to lefty killer Robinson Chirinos with two outs in the frame. Luckily for the Mets, that wound up not mattering too much, as Lucas Duda doubled, Curtis Granderson drew a two-out walk, and Jose Reyes hit the ball up the middle. Off the bat, that looked like a single, but Rougned Odor tracked it down with ease.
Odor’s throw to second base, however, wasn’t so easy. It took a hop that had shortstop Elvis Andrus discombobulated. He wasn’t able to corral the ball, and as a result, Granderson, who didn’t give up on the play and kept his foot on the bag all along, reached second safely as pinch runner Matt Reynolds scored.
And when Addison Reed threw a perfect bottom of the ninth, you got a brief sense that maybe things could be better for the Mets. They’d have to win a bunch of games in a row—or take two of every three for a long time—to really get back to relevance. But for once, a game that looked like it was headed completely off the rails ended in the Mets’ favor.
The bar has been set very low, but it felt like a big win.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Zack Wheeler, +35.4% WPA, Jose Reyes, +28.6% WPA, Jay Bruce, +26.8% WPA, Addison Reed, +21.5% WPA
Big losers: Jerry Blevins, -32.3% WPA, Asdrubal Cabrera, -13.1% WPA, Wilmer Flores, -11.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jose Reyes reaches on a fielder’s choice error in the ninth, Matt Reynolds scores, +34.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Robinson Chirinos hits a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth, -40.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +24.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: +25.4% WPA