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Sunday, July 6, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Mets 8, Rangers 4

By Danny Knobler | Special to ESPNNewYork.com



NEW YORK -- The first-inning numbers got another boost. The run differential numbers got a small boost, too.

Argue all you want about what it means, but what it meant Sunday was that the New York Mets won a game and a series. They scored five times in a first inning highlighted by Anthony Recker's three-run home run, and went on to beat the struggling Texas Rangers 8-4 in a game that only became close when the Rangers scored three times off Gonzalez Germen in the eighth inning.

Zack Wheeler pitched into the seventh inning for the third time in his last four starts, and won for just the second time since May 29 (and the first time all season at Citi Field).

First things first: Again, this may or may not be meaningful, but it sure is notable. With their big first inning Sunday, the Mets moved into a tie with the Oakland Athletics for the most first-inning runs in the majors this season (60, in 88 games).

They took advantage of some early wildness by Rangers starter Nick Tepesch. Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares had big two-out hits, and then Recker hit his home run.

And then, as so often has happened, the Mets barely scored again.

Their 60 first-inning runs were tied for most in the majors with the A's. But while the A's had scored 375 runs after the first inning, the Mets (going into Sunday) had scored just 282.

Wheeler wins: No, it wasn't his most impressive start of the season. They can't all be. But at the end of the day, Wheeler had allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings, on a two-out Robinson Chirinos home run in the fourth.

Wheeler pitched in deep counts more than you'd like, but besides Chirinos, he allowed only two Rangers to advance into scoring position (and neither of them scored).

Pitchers' wins can obviously be misleading, but Wheeler's other home-road splits haven't been great this season, either. Sunday's performance lowered his home ERA to 4.74, more than a run worse than his 3.68 ERA on the road.

The bullpen helps: Even with Wheeler at 96 pitches through six innings, manager Terry Collins sent him out for the seventh -- and nearly paid for it when the Rangers put runners at first and third with one out.

But Dana Eveland came in to strike out Shin-Soo Choo, and Vic Black followed by getting Elvis Andrus to end the inning.

Pregame moves: The Mets finally made the move to put Jon Niese on the disabled list, with Collins explaining that he hoped a midseason rest would help Niese as much this season as it seemed to last season. Niese was out for nearly two months last year, then had a 3.00 ERA in his final 10 starts. The Mets don't expect him to miss nearly that much time with this DL trip.

Buddy Carlyle replaced Niese on the active roster, but Dillon Gee is expected to come off the disabled list to start in Niese's place Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves.

All-Star time: The teams for next week's All-Star Game in Minnesota will be announced Sunday night at 7 on ESPN. The Mets were expecting to get one representative.

What's next: The Mets open a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves with a 7:10 p.m. ET game Monday night at Citi Field. Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-3, 3.72) faces Braves left-hander Mike Minor (2-5, 4.73).