After a day off, the Mets were in Cleveland this evening beginning a three game weekend series against the Indians. In a match-up I’m sure many Mets fans can appreciate, Zack Wheeler climbed the hill, opposed by a former Mets highly touted young pitching prospect named Scott Kazmir. After being selected in the first round of the 2002 draft by former GM Steve Phillips, Kazmir started his first ever game against his former organization. The left-hander brought a 7-7 record and 4.36 ERA against his former club. He spent the 2012 season pitching in the independent Atlantic League for the Sugar Land Skeeters in Texas. Making his fifteenth start of the season, Zack Wheeler brought a 7-3 record, and 3.36 ERA into the game.
With the opportunity to utilize a designated hitter in an American League park, this is the line-up Coach Terry handed in to the umpires: LF-Eric Young; 2B-Daniel Murphy; DH-Josh Satin; RF-Andrew Brown; 1B-Lucas Duda; SS-Justin Turner; CF-Juan Lagares; C-Travis d’Arnaud; 3B-Wilmer Flores.
Scott Kazmir’s first pitch of the game to Eric Young was a fastball, outside for ball one. But Young struck out, and so did Daniel Murphy. Batting third, Josh Satin broke the trend with the Mets first hit of the game. Scott Kazmir was sharp over the first two innings, striking out four, and by the end of three innings, Kazmir was up to eight strikeouts.
Zack Wheeler wasn’t faring as well. His first pitch of the game was a fastball strike, but the first two batters he faced singled. Then Wheeler walked the bases full. Clean-up hitter Carlos Santana drove in the Indians first run with a sac-fly to center. The Tribe scored a second time in the second inning on another RBI sac-fly, this time by center fielder Michael Bourn. Through three full innings, Wheeler had thrown fifty-three pitches, twenty-six for strikes, which only worked out to a 49% rate of effectiveness. He walked three batters to that point and struck out two.
Scott Kazmir was still cruising through five full innings. Wilmer Flores became his ninth strikeout victim. Kazmir had the Mets limited to four hits and no runs. Meanwhile, Zack Wheeler’s fastball was still registering 95mph in the bottom of the fifth, but he was laboring. With runners on first and third and two outs, Carlos Santana drove in his second run off Wheeler with a sharp base hit up the middle. A walk to Jason Kubel loaded the bases. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera lined sharply, but right to Juan Lagares in center. Wheeler finished the frame down 3-0, and at ninety-two pitches for the game.
In the top of the sixth, Scott Kazmir struck out Daniel Murphy. It was his tenth of the game to equal his season’s best mark. Kazmir then proceeded to strikeout Josh Satin and Andrew Brown to set his new season high for strikeouts in a game with twelve, and achieve his highest total in six seasons.
For the Mets, Zack Wheeler’s night was through. Reliever Gonzalez Germen entered the game in the sixth inning. Zack lasted five innings, allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits, walked five and struck out three. In spite of poor base running, the Tribe extended their lead to 4-0 off Germen with a pair of doubles.
Cody Allen entered the game in relief of Scott Kazmir in the seventh, and was immediately greeted by Justin Turner who connected on his first home run of the season to straight away center field. Juan Lagares followed with his twentieth double of the season, again to center field, but was stranded.
Scott Kazmir threw six full innings, allowed no runs on just four hits, walked no batters and struck out twelve. He threw ninety-seven very quality pitches on the night, to exact a fine revenge against the team that drafted him, but then traded him to Tampa in return for one of the biggest busts in Mets history. He improved his record to 8-7, and lowered his ERA to a 4.17 mark. As noted by Bob Ojeda in the SNY post-game, every one of Kazmir’s twelve strikeouts were swings and misses.
David Aardsma relieved Gonzalez Germen in the eighth, but was knocked from the game after recording one out, and leaving runners on second and third. Terry Collins summoned left-hander Tim Byrdak, who issued a walk to Michael Bourn to load the bases. With one out, Nick Swisher stepped in, and lofted a long fly to left and into the seats for a grand slam. His sixteenth home run of the season gave the Tribe an 8-1 lead.
The Mets now drop to 63-76 on the season.
- In his second at-bat, Daniel Murphy extended his hitting streak to ten games. Juan Lagares extended his streak to eleven games.
- Eric Young stole his thirty-sixth base of the season; his twenty-eighth with the Mets.
- Prior to the game, it was reported by SNY-TV reliever Scott Rice will miss the rest of the season with a sports hernia.
- Eric Young got picked off first base in the eighth inning. You can’t do that with your team behind, that late in the game, especially when the Mets fortunes were seemingly turning with Kazmir out of the game. The Mets were making contact against Cleveland’s bullpen.
- Batting third in the order as the DH, Josh Satin struck out three times. But it was Andrew Brown batting clean-up who wears the golden sombrero tonight with four strikeouts in four trips to the plate. The Mets struck out fifteen times in all.
- Tim Byrdak‘s second appearance since returning to the big club was not a good one.
- Zack Wheeler had trouble with his location, evidenced by five bases on balls. The strike zone eluded him, as only forty-nine of his ninety-two pitches went for strikes. That’s a rate of only fifty-three percent. His record drops to 7-4, and his ERA rose marginally to a 3.38 mark.
- Looks like Lucas Duda can use a refresher course at first base.