Friday, July 11, 2014
Wheeler rolls into All-Star break
By Adam Rubin
NEW YORK -- Zack Wheeler heads into the All-Star break clicking on all cylinders.
Wheeler allowed just one run and pitched into the seventh inning for the third straight start, as the Mets beat the Marlins, 7-1, Friday at Citi Field. Wheeler improved to 5-8 and shaved his ERA to 3.90.
“This is how I wanted to end my first half, going in strong,” Wheeler said.
Said manager Terry Collins: “You’re seeing much more consistent velocity throughout the game. Last year we saw where he could start the game at 96 mph and two innings later he’d pitch at 92 mph. You’re seeing 95s throughout the game (now). You’re seeing much better command of his changeup. His changeup has become a very effective pitch for him.
“He’s getting to know what he’s got to do to get outs at this level. If we continue to execute on the offensive side, this guy is going to win a lot of games in the second half.”
Wheeler did develop cramping during the outing, but shook it off.
“In the fifth inning, when I was warming up for that inning, my calf cramped up a little bit,” he said. “It was nothing. I stretched it out and started drinking more water -- more than I already had.”
Wright stuff: David Wright finished 4-for-4 with a two-run home run. And while he could use a break to allow his left shoulder to further mend, it obviously is not inhibiting him at the moment. Since returning from his week off, Wright is hitting .385 (10-for-26).
“He’s swinging good,” Collins said. “You hate to give him seven days’ rest, but obviously it’s made a difference. His bat is much quicker. He feels better. This guy is the kind of guy that can carry you if he gets hot. And we need him to get hot as we head into the second half. With the way the rest of the guys are starting to swing, his presence in that lineup swinging good is really important for us.”
Said Wright: “I’m kind of lucky, because a lot of guys around me are hitting well. As cliché as it sounds, hitting is contagious. We get some guys on in front of me, we get some guys swinging the bat well behind me, and you definitely feel more comfortable. It seems like every at-bat, every other at-bat, you’re getting put up there with runners in scoring position, and that’s a good feeling being a middle-of-the-lineup type hitter.
Familia usage: Collins brushed aside a question about using the heavily worked Jeurys Familia with a six-run lead in the ninth inning. Familia has appeared in a team-high 45 games, three behind National League leader Brad Ziegler of the Diamondbacks.
“I wanted to show you guys he was OK,” Collins dryly quipped, “so you could sleep tonight.”