Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Wheeler struggles in Subway Series debut
By Danny Knobler | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- The New York Mets knew this would be a big stage for Zack Wheeler, and they hoped that would lift their 23-year-old right-hander.
Maybe it did. Maybe it lifted him too much.
"He warmed up great in the bullpen, and then he went out there and I think he tried a little too hard," pitching coach Dan Warthen said after Wheeler walked a career-high six and couldn't make it through the five innings required for him to get credit for the Mets' 12-7 win over the New York Yankees. "He couldn't control his emotions."
Pitching in his first Subway Series game, Wheeler had trouble controlling anything. Handed a 4-0 lead before he took the mound, he needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning, eventually allowing a three-run home run to Brian McCann. He needed 30 more pitches in a scoreless second inning.
He faced 24 batters and went to a three-ball count on 11 of them.
Wheeler threw 99 pitches in just the first four innings, but when the Mets scored four times in the fifth to make it an 11-4 game, manager Terry Collins decided to let Wheeler try for the three more outs he needed to qualify for a win. But Wheeler walked Jacoby Ellsbury to begin the inning, and after a pair of one-out hits, Collins had little choice but to go get him.
Wheeler walked five in six innings in Miami in his prior start, but this was worse.
"You can't do that up here," Collins said. "You've got to trust your stuff."
You've also got to control your emotions. And when your team scores plenty of early runs, you can't let the other team up by failing to throw strikes.
"That should have been an easy win for him," Warthen said. "And that's why he's beating himself up right now."
Move coming: The Mets will need to make room on the 25-man roster for Rafael Montero, who will make his major league debut Wednesday night at Citi Field against the Yankees. Jose Valverde, who spent a few weeks as the closer, could be in jeopardy.
Murphy power: Of the six home runs the Mets hit the past two nights, the one they definitely weren't attributing to Yankee Stadium's short fences was Daniel Murphy's towering shot off the foul pole in the fifth inning Tuesday.
Murphy is having a big month and seems to be thriving back in the second spot in the order in front of the also hot David Wright.
"He's swinging the bat as well as he ever has, and as well as anybody in the game is right now," Wright said.
Shortstop plan: Ruben Tejada had another good game Tuesday and has definitely helped his standing and earned more playing time. But Collins said after the game that he plans to play Wilmer Flores at shortstop on Wednesday.
A rarity: The Mets pitching staff ended up with 10 walks. It was the first time since April 1985 that they'd walked 10 in a nine-inning game and still won.