Wheeler put the Mets in a big early hole Wednesday night against the Oakland Athletics, and the Mets' hitters didn't even begin to climb out until it was too late. The result was an 8-5 loss to the A's and Brad Mills, the journeyman left-hander famously traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the A's last week in exchange for $1.
Mills, making just his second major league start since July 2013 (he's changed teams three times since then), had an eight-hit shutout and an 8-0 lead before Lucas Duda's three-run, pinch-hit home run with one out in the seventh inning.
Three and out: Once again, three straight wins was the limit for the Mets, who have now gone almost a full year since their last four-game winning streak. The Mets haven't won four straight since July 7-10, just before the 2013 All-Star break. The only team that has gone longer is the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose last four-game winning streak ended three days before the Mets' last four-gamer.
Since that four-game streak in Milwaukee and San Francisco (Wheeler allowed one run in seven innings against the Giants for the fourth straight win), the Mets have won three in a row nine times (including six times this season), without ever making it to four.
Since July 11, 2013, there have been 129 winning streaks of four or more games in the major leagues -- none of them by the Mets.
Wheels down: The Mets wanted to believe Wheeler's complete-game shutout last week in Miami showed that he's ready to become a dominating major league starter. Maybe he still will be, but Wheeler followed the best start of his career with maybe the worst. His command was as bad Wednesday as it had been good against the Marlins, and the A's took complete advantage.
Brandon Moss hit a long two-run upper-deck home run in the first inning, and Wheeler struggled through a 34-pitch second inning that included a three-run double from Yoenis Cespedes. When Wheeler's spot in the batting order came up in the bottom of the second, manager Terry Collins pinch hit for him. It was the first time in 33 career starts that Wheeler was pulled before the fourth inning; he ended up allowing six runs on six hits and two walks.
The one very small silver lining for Wheeler and the Mets: Collins has been looking for ways to limit his innings as the season goes on, so he can pitch through to the end of September without hitting his team-imposed (but not officially disclosed) limit.
Young up: Chris Young seems to have saved his spot on the roster for now, and maybe some time in the lineup as well. Young hit a two-run home run off Luke Gregerson in the eighth inning Wednesday, giving him three homers in two days against the A's, the team that employed him last year.
Lucas hits a lefty: Duda hasn't played often against left-handers this season. He came into Wednesday's game with just 40 plate appearances against lefties, as opposed to 214 against right-handers. With two on in the seventh, Collins used Duda to pinch hit against the left-handed Mills. Duda responded with his first homer off a lefty since he hit one last September off Miami's Brad Hand.
What's next: The Mets go right back on the road to open a four-game series in Pittsburgh. Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1, 2.68) gets the start Thursday night (7:05 p.m. ET) against Pirates right-hander Vance Worley (1-0, 1.98).