Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Zack Wheeler Wins Debut; Mets Sweep Twin-Bill From Braves

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS - That's Two Small Steps For The Mets; One Giant Leap For Mets-Kind.

Making his twenty-fifth start of his major league career, Matt Harvey climbed the mound in Atlanta in the first game of a day/night double-header.  To the Braves, a first inning 100-mph fastball unleashed by Harvey was an omen.  Matt retired the first six batters he faced before issuing two walks in the third inning.  Over the fourth and fifth innings, Harvey again faced the minimum, while striking out five consecutive batters.  In the sixth, he fanned two more.  The Atlanta Braves finally managed their first hit off Matt Harvey in the seventh inning on a questionable scoring play at first base.  That matter was rendered mute in the eighth as Atlanta drew a lead-off walk off Harvey, then touched him for two clean singles.  With the bases loaded, Coach Collins called upon the bullpen for relief.  All three base runners eventually scored, and were charged to Matt Harvey.

The Mets were able to hold on however, and secure a 4-3 victory - Matt Harvey's sixth of the season against just one loss.  He pitched six hitless frames and seven shutout innings before being removed in the eighth.  Harvey was responsible for three earned runs on three hits.  He walked three batters and struck out eleven.  This game marked the fourth time in fifteen starts this season he achieved double-digit strikeouts.  His ERA rose slightly from 2.04, to a 2.14 mark.

In Game Two, Zack Wheeler finally made his much anticipated major league debut.  He lacked command of his breaking ball, and early on suffered through a poor economy of pitches, but otherwise battled through a very successful first appearance as a New York Met.  In six full innings pitched, he threw 102 pitches, fifty-five for strikes.  He allowed no runs on four hits, walked five and struck out seven.  Wheeler faced a no-decision up until Anthony Recker broke a scoreless deadlock in the top of the seventh by launching a two run bomb to straight away center field, giving Zack and the Mets a 2-0 lead.  In the eighth, the Mets strung together a couple of hits, while the Braves engaged in sloppy play that resulted in four more Mets runs.

The Mets swept the double-header, in what has historically been a difficult place for them to play.  They did it with Amazin' One and Amazin' Two - Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.  Today's sweep comes on the heels of an eight inning gem tossed by Dillon Gee the night before, but was  unfortunately lost in the ninth, 2-1, on a game winning two run homer struck by Freddie Freeman.  That's baseball, but after their two young hurlers dispatched the Braves today, the general  conversation now slowly turns from the futile Mets, to the emerging Mets.

A little more according to plan, the Mets now have clear signs their future is indeed emerging. Today's double-header featuring Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler was in a sense, a new start for the Mets season.  What began against the first place Braves must now evolve over the next three-plus months of the season.  Above all, the General Manager needs to proceed with decisiveness and a certain degree of boldness.  I can deal with transient half-truths and double-speak, but his active-roster decisions as it pertains to the outfield have proven feeble, and a waste of three months time.  I believe there has been no real strategy to shuttle players in and out of center and right field.  Instead, I feel the approach towards these two positions has been incoherent, if not questionable.  In the first three months, I would have auditioned six players by now, allowing them all one full month apiece.  Roughly twenty-five uninterrupted games, and eighty-five at-bats could have served several of their other minor league players well.  Barring a major trade, perhaps this sort of plan still has a chance over the final three months of the season.

Speaking of trades, the General Manager said we're now inside a six month window where he will actively persue such.  Show me.


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