Wheeler Great Again
Here’s how good Zack Wheeler has been pitching in the second half of the season. Last night, he allowed three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out nine. For him, that now qualifies as a poor start.
The Dodgers were able to score the three runs off of him because they hit two homers. It should come as no surprise one of those homers was by Cody Bellinger, who absolutely owns Wheeler. In fact, Bellinger is 4-for-8 against Wheeler with four homers and nine RBI.
The other homer was in the fourth inning. After Justin Turner hit a comebacker which hit Wheeler in the ribs, Max Muncy would hit a two run homer off of Wheeler. Given how Wheeler was still dealing with the shot to the ribs, you could put a bit of a mental asterisk next to that one, especially when you consider Wheeler would retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.
Even with those homers, the Dodgers could not pull ahead of the Mets.
In the fourth, the Mets finally broke through against Hyun-Jin Ryu. Amed Rosario singled and Jeff McNeil doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. From that point forward, the Mets would BABIP the heck out of Ryu.
Mets hits tonight with a hit probability <50%:
Flores, 4th inning single: 9%
Nimmo, 5th inning single: 34%
Rosario, 5th inning single: 48%
McNeil, 7th inning single: 13%
— John Edwards (@John_Edwards_) September 6, 2018
Wilmer Flores would hit one back which hit Ryu that allowed him to reach safely and would allow Rosario to score. McNeil would challenge Joc Pederson‘s arm on a Michael Conforto flyball, and he would score because Yasmani Grandal could not hold onto the ball. In an odd official scorer position, Conforto was not given the RBI as it was ruled an error on Grandal.
Part of the key to that play was Flores going to third, which would allow him to score from third on the two out RBI single from Austin Jackson. That was important as Jackson was nailed at second trying to challenge Alex Verdugo‘s arm. Had Flores been at third, it’s very likely he does not score on the play.
Kevin Plawecki led off the fifth with a double, and he moved to third on a Brandon Nimmo bloop hit. After Wheeler struck out, Rosario singled home Plawecki. Later that inning, Flores brought home Nimmo on a ball Enrique Hernandez was not quite tall enough to get. With that, the Mets had a 5-2 lead, and they were in control of the game.
That became a stranglehold with Conforto delivering a seventh inning RBI single, and Ryan Madson throwing a wild pitch to allow McNeil to come home from third.
After 105 pitches, Wheeler was done after seven, and Mickey Callaway brought on Seth Lugo to close out the final two innings. He did just that allowing no hits and striking out a batter. With the win, the Mets have now won consecutive West Coast series, and the team is playing much better baseball of late. They are two games over .500 in the second half.
Game Notes: In his final at-bat ever against the Mets, Chase Utley lined out to Nimmo. So in the end, the dirtiest player alive lined out to the nicest and most genuine player in the majors.