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Wheeler’s strong start, Conforto home run lead Mets to victory

Mets win second straight at home; send Washington below .500

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets made Nationals starter Austin Voth’s major league debut a rough one. After Voth got through the first unscathed, the Mets played some small ball in the bottom of the second, stringing together four straight singles to start the inning. The fourth—courtesy of a hot Amed Rosario—plated the first run of the game, bringing Zack Wheeler to the plate with the bases loaded.

Wheeler launched a sacrifice fly to deep left-center to help his own cause(tm), and Bryce Harper’s off-line throw allowed the other runners to advance. Brandon Nimmo followed with a runscoring ground out to give the Mets an early 3-0 lead. Wheeler would make his batwork stand up, cruising through the early innings, and keeping the Nationals scoreless through five.

The Mets would get to a tiring Voth again in the bottom of that frame. After Voth walked Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Bautista, Michael Conforto followed with a three-run home run to extend the lead. One might have expected Voth’s day to end there, but Dave Martinez disagreed, and the Mets added another off courtesy of three straight singles from Wilmer Flores, Kevin Plawecki, and Jose Reyes to extend the lead to 7-0 and finally chase the embattled Voth.

The Nationals tried to respond in the top of the sixth, as a Bryce Harper RBI single made it 7-1, and brought up Matt Adams with one out and the bases loaded. However, Wheeler got a huge double play from Matt Adams to escape the inning.

Wheeler got through the seventh easily and came out to start the eighth with a high pitch count. After surrendering two singles to start the frame, Wheeler got what should have been a huge double play ground ball from Anthony Rendon, but Jose Reyes inexplicably paused and allowed himself to be distracted by the runner leaving third, recording only the force out. Wheeler struck out Bryce Harper, but this time Adams got to him for a home run to cut the lead to 7-4 and make Wheeler’s final line a bit less impressive.

For once, the bullpen held a lead for Wheeler, who has seen a couple of huge leads magically disappear after departing the game—as Anthony Swarzak and Jeurys Familia retiring the last four batters to secure Wheeler’s third victory of the season, and first since April 29 despite his solid pitching (3.61 ERA since June). The win gave the Mets two wins in a row at home for the first time since May 19-20, and give them a chance to claim the series against their division rivals with a win on Sunday.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Zack Wheeler, +21.1% WPA
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Amed Rosario’s RBI single in the second inning, +8.0%
Teh sux0rest play: Michael Conforto ground out in the first inning, -3.7%
Total pitcher WPA: 24.7% WPA+
Total batter WPA: 25.3% WPA+
GWRBI!: Michael Conforto