By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Mets suffered another tough loss on Saturday afternoon, as they lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 at Citi Field. Zack Wheeler showed progress, but their offense could not get the big hit.
Wheeler had possibly his best outing of the season, as he went 6 2/3 innings, and allowed three runs, two earned, on 6 hits and a walk, and struck out 7. This was his longest outing since he went 7 innings on Sepetember 11, 2013 in a 3-0 loss to the Nationals. He threw 118 pitches, which tied his season-high, when he threw 118 pitches against the Yankees on May 13th.
Mets Manager Terry Collins said of Wheeler's performance, "I think that's a huge step forward for him, I think it's an enormous step. He was angry at the way things started and he beared down and he pitched very very well throughout the entire ballgame. I told him on the bench that he pitched good, and he said, 'I still had more in me,' I said I know, but you also gotta realize where we are and the fact that we have to take care of you a little bit. I was very pleased with the way he stopped the bleeding and gave us a chance to get back in the game."
Wheeler said of his outing, "There wasn't a hard-hit ball all day, but ground balls got through the holes, really can't do anything about that. I felt good overall." On if the fact he was not hit hard gave him the confidence to go forward after a tough second and third inning, when he allowed the three runs, he said, "Yeah, I was a little bit better with my command, wasn't perfect, of course, but I was better, and it showed."
On getting stronger as the game went on, Wheeler said, "I could have kept going if it wasn't for the pitch count or whatever, but I felt strong all the way through, and kept telling Terry (Collins) I was fine every time I came in the last few innings."
Catcher Anthony Recker said of Wheeler getting stronger as the game went on, "Definitely. He pitched really well, especially late in the game. I felt like early on, there were a couple times, he fell behind and he'd try to guide the pitch instead of just throwing it. Later in the game, he was just really aggressive pounding the zone and coming at them with everything he had and it worked." On making that change, Recker said, "I mentioned something to him in the third or fourth inning, but the light switch went on for him a little bit there because you could tell he was almost cruising after that third inning."
Lucas Duda went 0-for-4 and left seven runners on base. He came up with the bases loaded in the first and struck out, with two on in the third and flew out, and two on in the eighth and flew out to the warning track in left field.
Duda said of leaving all those guys on base, "Yeah, that was tough man...Sometimes, it goes like that. You know, Zack pitching a heck of a game, feel like I let him down today, but hopefully we'll get it tomorrow."
"I like to think it's a bad stretch. I can only speak for me personally but I have to drive those runs in, no doubt, and I'll take the blame for this one today," said Duda.
Wilmer Flores also had a tough game, as he made an error in the third inning on a hit in the hole by Paul Goldschmidt. He later scored on a seeing eye single by Martin Prado to give Arizona a 3-0 lead, which turned out to be the difference. On if Goldschmidt's speed surprised him, Flores said, "No, just made a bad throw, so what? I made the next play."
Mets Manager Terry Collins said of Flores' error in the third, "He's gotta realize Paul can run. He hasn't been here long enough to know that he can really run, so you gotta get to a ball and get it to first base, but he's been fine, he's been fine."
Flores also had a tough day at the plate, as he went 0-for-4. He said of that, "I feel good, my swing's fine, not nervous. It will come."
The day of missed opportunities for the Mets began in the first inning. They a two-out rally going, as David Wright doubled up the gap in right field followed by a walk to Curtis Granderson. Chris Young, playing his former team for the first time, dribbled one up the first-base line and slid safely into first base to load the bases. Lucas Duda ended the rally by striking out.
Wheeler struggled in the second inning, as he walked Miguel Montero and allowed a double to Aaron Hill. The irony to Hill's double is that he hit it to left field, just about the same spot that he homered in the second inning on Friday night off Bartolo Colon before the game was rained out. Martin Prado singled to right field to score Montero, and Cody Ross hit a seeing-eye single up the middle to make it 2-0 Diamondbacks.
After Arizona got a run in the top of the third, the Mets had a great scoring chance in the bottom half of the inning, as Daniel Murphy and Wright singled before Granderson laced an RBI double to right field to make it 3-1 Arizona. The rally fizzled when Chris Young struck out and Duda hit a routine fly ball to center field to end it.
Wright hit a homer down the line in left field with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull the Mets to within 3-2. It was Wright's third homer of the season.
Wheeler pitched well enough to come out for the seventh inning despite being at 105 pitches. He gave up a single to Gerardo Parra to open it up, and then got Chris Owings out on a bunt and Goldschmidt to ground out. At this point, Wheeler was pulled for Josh Edgin. Montero dribbled one in front of the plate and Mets catcher Anthony Recker had the wherewithal to grab it before it went foul and tagged out Montero to end the inning. Recker said of that play, "I was just hoping I was gonna catch it fair because the spin on it, it was definitely coming back. I told Edgin I almost hit it out to him because I just wanted to keep that thing fair, but just fortunate to make a play."
In the bottom of the eighth, Granderson legged out an infield hit and Chris Young worked out a walk to give the Mets two on base with one out. Once again, Duda and Flores did not deliver,as both flew out to left field. The Mets went down in order in the bottom of the night against Arizona closer Addison Reed, who recorded his 13th save of the season.
Tomorrow will be a Mets tradition, Banner Day, starting at 11 AM. The judges will be radio announcer Howie Rose, LITE FM's Rich Kaminski, and Mets in-game hosts Alexa Datt and Brandon Wellington. Tomorrow is a doubleheader, with Rafael Montero starting Game 1 and Daisuke Matsuzaka starting the nightcap for the Mets, while Bronson Arroyo will start one of the games for Arizona, with the other starter to be determined.