Zack Wheeler made his long awaited debut for the Mets Tuesday night in Game 2 of a doubleheader with the Braves. He was excellent, throwing six shutout innings. And even more shockingly, the offense and bullpen came through for him and Wheeler is a winner in his first big league outing.
Zack Wheeler walked the first batter he faced, Andrelton Simmons. On the next batter he got his first strikeout, fanning Jason Heyward. With two outs he walked Freddie Freeman, but he got B.J. Upton to ground out to get out of the inning.
Wheeler threw almost exclusively fastballs in that first inning, ranging from 95-98 mph. He was a bit wild, perhaps feeling the nerves and with his adrenaline pumping. He threw a couple of off-speed pitches that were also out of the strike zone.
Dan Uggla got the first hit off of Zack Wheeler in the second inning — a double that fell just short of the left field wall. He stranded Uggla here, settling down and getting all three outs in the inning via strikeout.
In the third inning Wheeler walked Simmons again and when Justin Upton struck out for the second out, Simmons stole second. The throw dribbled into center field. Simmons went to third and was a dead duck but Wright couldn’t handle the throw. He walked Freeman again to put runners on first and third. B.J. Upton flew out to end the inning.
The Mets got runners to second and third with two outs in the fourth, but Josh Satin struck out on a 3-2 count on a low pitch that the umpire ruled a strike.
Wheeler allowed a hit and picked up another strikeout in the bottom of the fourth.
In the fifth he allowed a hit, but a double play and ground out kept the game scoreless.
Daniel Murphy and David Wright had back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth, but Marlon Byrd popped out to end the threat.
B.J. Upton singled with one out in the sixth and stole second. Brian McCann walked. Uggla struck out and Chris Johnson popped up to end the inning.
The Mets finally broke through against Paul Maholm in the seventh — Josh Satin singled and Anthony Recker hit a home run to dead center to give the Mets a 2-0. Wheeler was allowed to bat for himself, striking out while trying to bunt. Terry Collins likely did not want to waste a pinch hitter, what with having only four bench players, but Wheeler’s night was done.
Zack Wheeler threw 102 innings over six shutout innings. He allowed just four hits and struck out seven. The only downside is that Wheeler walked five batters. Still though, we couldn’t ask for more than six shutout innings in a pitcher’s major league debut. As the game went on Wheeler mixed in more change ups, which he will need to do if he is going to be successful. A 98 mph fast ball is great, but big league hitters will easily catch up to it if that’s all you can throw.
Scott Atchison, just off the disabled list, was supposed to follow Wheeler on the mound. But after throwing two warm-up pitches, Atchison came up lame and limped off the field with an apparent pulled muscle in his leg. Brandon Lyon came on instead. He allowed singles to his first two batters. A ground out moved the runners to second and third. Justin Upton hit a sacrifice fly to cut the Mets lead to 2-1.
Marlon Byrd doubled with two outs in the eighth. A pickoff throw went into center field and when B.J. Upton overran the ball trying to field it, Byrd scored a huge insurance run to make it 3-1. Satin walked and Recker and Juan Lagares both singled to make it 4-1. Omar Quintanilla singled to plate two more to make it 6-1.
That was the final score as the bullpen closed it out for Zack Wheeler and the Mets swept the doubleheader.