The renaissance of Zack Wheeler continues, as the Mets beat the Marlins 6-2 in the series opener in Miami. Wheeler was brilliant, allowing just two runs and four hits over seven innings, racking up eight strikeouts. He kept the Marlins hitless until the fifth and scoreless until the seventh.
The Mets had a runner on in both the first and second innings, but failed to score until the third inning, when three straight two-out singles from Jeff McNeil, Wilmer Flores, and Michael Conforto plated the game’s first run. The Marlins had their first baserunner in the bottom of the inning when Miguel Rojas reached on a fielding error by Rosario with one out. Jose Urena successfully sacrificed Rojas to second, but Conforto made a nice diving grab to rob Magneuris Sierra of a hit and keep the Marlins off the board. The Marlins also put the tying run in scoring position in the fourth when Brian Anderson walked to lead off the inning and advanced on a wild pitch by Wheeler. But with one out Wheeler struck out Derek Dietrich on a beautiful 3-2 curveball and got Starlin Castro to bounce out to third to end the inning.
Wheeler had all of his pitches working all night, mixing in his slider, splitter, and the nastiest curve he’s had all year. The Marlins were held hitless until the fifth, when Martin Prado led off the inning with a clean single. Rafael Ortega hit the next ball hard as well, but it was right to Flores, who had a chance to turn two, but looped the throw to Rosario, who rushed on the transfer to try to get the out at first and dropped the ball. Ortega advanced to second on a groundout by Rojas, but that brought the pitcher Urena to the plate and Wheeler disposed of him quickly, getting him to pop out to second to end the inning.
The Mets chased Urena from the game in the top of the sixth when Conforto walked to lead off the inning and Todd Frazier smacked a one-out single to advance Conforto to third. Austin Jackson drove in Conforto with a seeing eye single up the middle that just missed Urena’s glove. Drew Rucinski then came in, but allowed all of his inherited runners to score—first, plunking Kevin Plawecki with a pitch and then allowing a two-out single to Amed Rosario to make it 4-0 Mets.
J.T. Realmuto broke his hitless stretch by belting a double with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but Wheeler retired Dietrich on a shallow fly ball to left field to end the inning. Wheeler was in cruise control heading into the seventh, scoreless streak still in tact. He got two quick outs—his sixth and seventh strikeout victims of the night—but then allowed a single to Ortega. Rojas then hit a towering two-run shot to cut the Mets’ lead in half and put a slight crimp in Wheeler’s evening. Wheeler recovered quickly, striking out the pinch hitter J.T. Riddle, but his scoreless stretch came to an end at 23 innings.
The Mets picked Wheeler up, responding with two more runs in the top of the eighth off Javy Guerra. Nimmo struck out to lead off the inning, but Frazier followed that with a single. Austin Jackson, the hottest hitter on the Mets of late, then hit a ground rule double to put men on second and third with one out. Plawecki hit a single to drive in two runs and make the score 6-2. Guerra bounced back by recording two strikeouts in a row—Jose Reyes, pinch hitting for Wheeler, and Rosario.
But the Mets’ bullpen was able to make the four-run lead stand. Seth Lugo pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Adam Conley responded by pitching a scoreless ninth, working around a one-out double off the bat of Flores. Jerry Blevins came on to start the ninth for the Mets, with Mickey Callaway probably intending to use him for the entire inning. However, he hit the lefty Dietrich to start the inning and Callaway chose to go with Drew Smith to finish things off. To be fair, Dietrich is tied with Nimmo for the league lit in hit by pitches. Smith promptly erased Dietrich though, getting Castro to hit one back to the mound for a 1-4-3 double play. Flores then made a nice play on a hard grounder by Ortega down the line to end the game and seal the victory for the Mets and Zack Wheeler’s fifth straight win.
Corey Oswalt will make another start in place of Steven Matz in game two of this three game set in Miami, facing off against Dan Straily.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Zack Wheeler, +26.7% WPA, Amed Rosario, +14.8% WPA, Austin Jackson, +14% WPA
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s RBI single in the top of the third, +10.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play:
Total pitcher WPA: +31.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: +18.9% WPA
GWRBI!: Amed Rosario