- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Dillon Gee tossed six no-hit innings in his final tuneup for an Opening Day start opposite Stephen Strasburg, but the New York Mets lost to the Houston Astros 9-6 on Wednesday night at Osceola County Stadium.
Gee finished his Grapefruit League work with a 1.08 ERA. He walked one batter Wednesday, Jonathan Villar with two outs in the third inning. It was the lone batter Gee walked in 16 2/3 spring-training innings. He struck out seven during Tuesday’s efficient 70-pitch effort.
New York Mets
2014 GRAPEFRUIT STATS
“That was as sharp as I have ever seen Gee,” one scout in attendance said.
Said Mets manager Terry Collins: “Outside of one base on balls, he was about as on -- location-wise, stuff-wise -- as you want to see. He’s ready to go. He’s ready to open up. He’s excited about it.”
As for why Gee was named Opening Day starter once Jonathon Niese became unavailable, Collins added: “I really believe this: Bartolo [Colon] certainly was as deserving as anybody. The guy won 18 games last year. You know, there’s something about being in this organization, being a Met. And the job that Dillon has done the last three years in this organization, I just thought it was his turn. And I talked to Bartolo. I was concerned about it. As long as he gets his 34 starts, he doesn’t care what day it is.”
A seven-run frame ensued, in part courtesy of three consecutive doubles against Germen and Carlos Torres.
The only no-hitter in Mets spring-training history remains a combined effort by Gary Kroll and Gordy Richardson on March 21, 1965, according to mets.nohitters.com research.
The Mets dropped to 14-13-2 entering the final day of their Grapefruit League schedule.
Anthony Recker’s two-run homer against Scott Feldman in the fifth had given the Mets a 2-0 lead. The Mets pushed that advantage to three runs an inning later when Daniel Murphy had a leadoff double and Juan Lagares plated him with a single.
A three-run eighth pulled the Mets to within 7-6, but Jose Valverde surrendered two runs (one earned) in the bottom half.
“The key is fastball command,” Gee said about his outing. “Tonight I felt pretty sharp. I felt like I was throwing the fastball exactly where I wanted to most of the time. It was a good way to end it. I was efficient tonight. I was aggressive. I was locating well, throwing off-speed for strikes, throwing [strikes] behind in the count. I did everything that you would want to do in a game.
“I don’t like to use the word ‘satisfied’ or anything, but I’m good with where I’m at right now, and I’m looking to keep building off that.”
What’s next: The Mets complete their Grapefruit League schedule with a 12:05 p.m. game Thursday against the Washington Nationals (ESPN/SNY). Colon will pitch in a minor league game to avoid facing his first regular-season opponent. Instead, prospect Cory Mazzoni will oppose Jordan Zimmermann.
Niese also is due to pitch in a 1 p.m. minor league game. It will be his first game since departing a March 16 start after two innings with elbow discomfort. Niese subsequently received a cortisone injection in his left elbow to address inflammation.