The Mets took the opening game of their three-game set with the Nationals on Tuesday night in D.C. Zack Wheeler took the mound for New York and — despite having obvious command issues — battled through his seven innings. He ended the night having surrendered just one run on seven hits and four walks, lowering his ERA to 3.48.
Coming off a start against Philadelphia where he allowed five runs in 3.2 innings, Gio Gonzalez started for the Nationals. Despite pitching six strong innings, the bullpen allowed two of his runners left on base to score. Overall, he had four earned runs charged to him on six hits and two walks.
In the first inning, Daniel Murphy tripled, after which David Wright drove him in on an RBI single to right. The Mets made it 2-0 in the second after Travis d’Arnaud led off the inning with a double. Wheeler then helped his own cause two batters later with a pop fly single to which outfielder Jayson Werth could not get.
Washington answered in the bottom of the second when Wheeler surrendered back-to-back walks to Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond. After Bryce Harper struck out, Asdrubal Cabrera walked to load the bases. Then, with Jose Lobaton batting, Wheeler threw a wild pitch to score a run.
In the bottom of the sixth, after Werth hit a double, LaRoche singled on a ground ball to left fielder Eric Campbell. With a strong, accurate throw to home plate, Campbell earned an outfield assist as Werth was tagged out by d’Arnaud in what was a huge play for New York.
After shutting down the Mets offense, Gonzales ran into some trouble in the top of the seventh. He departed the game after walking Chris Young and allowing a single to Ruben Tejada. Drew Storen, in relief, then allowed a sacrifice bunt to Wheeler to move the runners over. After hitting Juan Lagares with a pitch, Daniel Murphy singled to score a pair and make it 4-1. Red-hot Lucas Duda then hit his own single to score the Mets’ fifth run of the game.
In the bottom of the inning, Wheeler allowed singles to Asdrubal Cabrera and Lobaton with none out. He was able to enduce a huge double-play to Steven Souza to leave a man on third. Josh Edgin then came in to relieve him, with Lagares robbing Denard Span of a hit with an amazing catch in center to end the inning.
The Nationals hit their second batter of the game — d’Arnaud — to lead off the eighth. Young then singled, followed by pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis singling to make it 6-1.
Wheeler has now gone seven straight starts working 6.0 or more innings and allowing two or fewer runs. The last Mets starter with a longer such single-season streak was Masato Yoshii in 1999.
Wheeler has now had 12 starts this year where he’s gone 6.0 or more innings and allowed one or fewer earned runs, tied for the eighth-most such starts in the majors this season.
The Mets plated a first-inning run tonight on Wright’s RBI single. New York has now scored 73 first-inning runs, the most in the National League and the second-most in the majors behind the Angels (74).
Duda has reached safely in 33 of his last 36 games.
Lagares has at least one hit in seven of his last eight games.
Murphy — who had three hits tonight — has a hit in 12 of his last 14 games with six doubles and ten RBI over that span. He also has three multiple-hit games in his last five games.