Jun 25, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

6/25 Game Recap: Mets Get Late Gift But Fall to White Sox 5-4

Tonight’s game at U.S. Cellular Field had a very odd feel to it.  Before the game began, the sky got dark as lightning flashed and thunder was heard in the distance.  In the top of the first, a section of the lights went off, leading to a slight delay.  It appeared that the game was destined to wind up in a rain delay but it never did.

In the top of the first, the Mets got two runs off Chris Sale.  After Eric Young, Jr. led off the game with a double and stole third, he came in to score on a very shallow sacrifice fly off the bat of Marlon ByrdDavid Wright then walked and stole second base.  Josh Satin followed by grounding a single up the middle to plate Wright and give the Mets an early 2-0 advantage.

Zack Wheeler gave one of those runs back in the bottom half of the first without the ball leaving the infield.  He gave up one of the cheapest hits you’ll ever see to Alejandro De Aza to lead off the inning.  After a stolen base and two groundouts, De Aza came in to score to cut New York’s advantage to 2-1.  The Sox then evened things in the third when Tyler Flowers hit a solo homer into the first row in left center.

That’s where the score remained until the top of the fifth.  It was then, that Andrew Brown lined a leadoff homer into the seats in right center to put the Mets back up 3-2.

In the fifth, Wheeler, who seemed off tonight (but wasn’t helped by the odd game John Buck/Dan Warthen called), came apart a bit.  He allowed a line drive single to open the inning, hit Tyler Flowers, and then uncorked a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with no one out.  The tying and go ahead runs came home on a ground out and a sacrifice fly to put the Sox ahead 4-3.  Wheeler then struck out Alex Rios to end the frame.

Wheeler found himself in trouble again in the sixth, but was bailed out by a Ron Swoboda esque play by Marlon Byrd, and by Carlos Torres, who worked out of the first and third, one out jam he inherited from Wheeler.

Although he gave up three runs, Chris Sale was absolutely ridiculous tonight.  He struck out 13 in his eight innings of work, allowed four hits, and walked two.  Addison Reed allowed David Wright to reach second base with no one out in the ninth, and it appeared that the game was over when Daniel Murphy lifted a popup in front of the mound with two outs.  However, the White Sox amazingly botched the play and the ball dropped, allowing Wright to come around from second to tie things at 4.

LaTroy Hawkins came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth, and gave up an infield single before making an error on an attempted sacrifice bunt to put runners on first and second with no one out.  Hawkins then induced what likely would’ve been a double play, but Josh Satin bobbled the ball at first.  That led to the Mets only getting the out at second, and left runners on the corners with one out.  Hawkins followed by getting Alejandro De Aza to pop out to David Wright in foul territory by the third base bag for the second out.  Hawkins was unable to escape the jam, though, as Alexei Ramirez lined a game winning single down the left field line to give the White Sox a 5-4 win.  The Mets were given a gift in their half of the ninth, and then sloppily handed the game right back to Chicago in the bottom half.

Highlights:

  • Zack Wheeler made his 2nd big league start and tossed 5.1 innings.  He allowed 4 runs (earned) on 4 hits, walked 3, and struck out 1.  He also hit a batter.  Although he technically struck out only 1 batter, the actual number should’ve been 3.  There were 2 third strikes he recorded that were ruled to have been fouled off by the home plate umpire.  Both pitches were clear swings and misses.
  • Marlon Byrd made a diving catch in right field in the 6th inning that was the best defensive play the Mets have made all year.

Thoughts:

Zack Wheeler didn’t get hit hard tonight, he didn’t walk a ton of guys, and he didn’t seem nervous.  He was just a bit off.  Ron Darling suggested in the booth that the game John Buck/Dan Warthen called for Wheeler was poor.  To sum it up, there was far too much focus on Wheeler’s secondary pitches.  In fact, 3 of the 4 hits Wheeler gave up were on secondary pitches.  There was a specific at bat in the sixth inning that Darling called attention to.  After Wheeler got ahead 0-2 using his fastball, Buck called for all secondary stuff.  That resulted in Wheeler issuing a walk to Conor Gillaspie that ended his night.

In addition to Wheeler not pitching to his strength (supposedly because of some combination of Warthen and Buck), he was done in by the home plate umpire twice.  On two separate occasions, Wheeler recorded a strikeout, only to have the home plate umpire incorrectly rule that the batter had fouled the third strike off.  This led to a pair of prolonged at bats and a higher pitch count.  Wheeler was also victimized by three stolen bases and near perfect situational hitting by the White Sox.  Aside from the home run Wheeler gave up to Tyler Flowers, all of the runs he allowed came on outs (2 ground outs and a sacrifice fly).

If it were up to me, I’d pair Wheeler with Anthony Recker again for his home debut on Sunday.  I’d also hope that Dan Warthen allows Wheeler to pitch his game.

Next Up:

The Mets wrap up their two game series with the White Sox tomorrow night at 8:10.  Shaun Marcum gets the start for New York.  He’ll be opposed by John Danks.

 

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