Matt Harvey may have grabbed the headlines, Zack Wheeler may have been this year’s Wünderkind, and Jonathon Niese may be the lefty that give the rotation some variety, but lost under all of that is the dependability of a fourth starter who pitches like a second or third. Dillon Gee more than just came back from his career-threatening blood clot of July 2012: he got better. And with Harvey’s 2014 all but wiped out, Gee stands to be the glue that holds the New York rotation together until its arsenal is completely reloaded. And it all started one night in May, as our Amazin’ Ten countdown looks on the (supposed) grandest stage in all of baseball…certainly the most expensive.
#6 – Gee Caps Yankee Sweep (May 30)
The Mets had put together a string of defining stretches in the first two years of the Terry Collins era. Jose Reyes’s other-worldly June became the face of 2011, and June 2012 produced Johan Santana’s no-hitter and R.A. Dickey’s back-to-back one-hitters. New York was looking to make post-Memorial Day week their high point of 2013 by doing something no other Met team had done before: sweep the New York Yankees for the season.
Last-second rallies came to define the two games at Citi Field on Monday and Tuesday of that week, and an early five-spot put the first game at Yankee Stadium away quickly on Wednesday. On this Thursday night, with a first-ever season sweep on the line, Met fans probably were putting more stock in their offense against Vidal Nuno than they were in Dillon Gee’s arm. The fact that he came back at all from his blood clot was incredible, but two months into the season with a 2-6 record and 6.34 ERA, he was running out of time to make things right. This had the potential to be another laugher, and in the Little League park that was the new Yankee Stadium, it was all but assured.
Gee allowed the first two batters to reach base but got out of the threat in the first inning. The National League New Yorkers gave their starter an early lead on Marlon Byrd’s two-run upper-deck homer in the top of the second. After Gee surrendered a cheap solo shot to Robinson Cano in the third, it looked like a slugfest all the way. Except Gee found his groove quickly and decisively, so much so that if we told you what happened now, it would make for a very short article.
After surrendering the home run to Byrd in the second, Nuno also found his rhythm, giving up no more hits through the rest of his six innings. He was relieved for Shawn Kelley in the seventh, and one inning later the Mets found a way to grind out another run. Omar Quintanilla led off the eighth with a walk and Justin Turner grounded him over to second. Yankee reliever Boone Logan would strike out Daniel Murphy and walk David Wright, then gave way for hype-machine Joba Chamberlain. With John Buck at the plate, Chamberlain went as wild as Yankee brass did when he first came up, and the runners moved up to second and third. Buck took his opportunity and dribbled off an infield single to bring home Quintanilla and make it 3-1.
The extra run was a moot point, however, as Dillon Gee made the Yankees his own, retiring 15 straight American League New Yorkers after the Cano homer. By the time he was pulled in the eighth for a more favorable pitching matchup, Gee had put together a 12-strikeout (including five straight to end it) masterpiece in the Bronx, allowing just a run and four hits, with no walks, over seven and a third innings and just 88 pitches. Met fans had the right to be nervous after Collins removed Gee in favor of Scott Rice (to quote Gary Cohen: “color me shocked”), but Mr. a-Roni picked up right where his starter left off, sitting down Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner to end the inning. Bobby Parnell finished the Bombers off with a convincing 1-2-3 ninth, and the Mets had their season sweep of the hated Yankees.
The momentum would not stay with the Mets as they left the Bronx – a definitive sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins will do that to you. As for Dillon Gee, the rest of 2013 turned into one of the more notable comebacks that season in Major League Baseball. The Yankee start included, Gee would go 10-5 with a 2.71 ERA and 1.132 WHIP in his final 22 starts of the year. He may not have gained the notoriety of his three rotation mates, but Dillon Gee figures to be one of the rocks in the rotation for years to come. It’s not often that he makes us say “Gee whiz,” but when he does…we sweep the Yankees.
May 30: the 5th most Amazin’ game of 2013. On Monday, we’ll revisit Matt Harvey’s finest moment in a season full of fine moments.
Amazin’ Ten of 2013
#6 – Flores’s Hello and Harvey’s Shutout (August 7)
#5 – Gee Caps Yankee Sweep (May 30)