The Mets finally snapped their seven game losing streak yesterday, defeating the Braves in Atlanta by the score of 3-2, thanks in large part to starter Dillon Gee. So maybe it wasn’t a complete game shutout. And maybe he only made it through five and two-third innings. But in just his sixth major league start, the righty from Texas turned in a quality performance and helped propel the Mets to victory. His outing may not have been ace-like, but it is fair to say that he performed better than most of his fellow Met starters by only allowing five hits and one earned run with two walks and four strikeouts before exiting with the lead in the sixth. In short, Gee did what was needed to help the team earn the victory.
After the Mets scored two quick runs off Tommy Hanson in the first, Gee did was others in the rotation have failed to in the past week: he tossed a one-two-three innings. After falling behind 3-0 to Martin Prado to start the game, Gee battled back and retired him on a sharp ground out to third. Jason Heyward then grounded to second on one pitch before he struck out Brian McCann on a nasty changeup to end the first.
But his true test came in the second inning. Still leading 2-0, Gee surrendered a leadoff triple to Dan Uggla, followed by a four pitch walk to Eric Hinske and an RBI single to Freddie Freeman. Alex Gonzalez then singled to load the bases for Matt Young with nobody out, needing only a sac fly to tie the game and still keep the Braves in line for a big inning. How many Met fans at this point were dreading the thought of another grand slam by the opposition. Sure, Matt Young had only eleven major league plate appearances, all coming this season, but that seemed to be the way the season had been going so far for the Amazins. But Gee bore down and got Young to pop up to shortstop on an inside fastball, bringing Hanson to the plate with one out. The count got to 2-2 before Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez opted for the squeeze, resulting in a double play and the end of the inning.
Admittedly, Gonzalez made a mistake. It was a big risk to run the squeeze play with Hanson and it backfired. But even so, Gee was one strike away from retiring Hanson before facing Prado with the bases still loaded, but now two outs. He did not lose his poise and appeared in control the entire time. Of course nobody can predict what would’ve happened if Hanson had swung or if Prado got to the dish, but Gee deserves some credit for turning what could’ve been a disastrous inning into one where he only allowed a run and left with the lead.
After that, Gee began rolling. Going around the order for the second time to begin the third inning, Gee snapped off a a sharp, 12-6 curve to Prado for a strike, a pitch he hadn’t thrown the first time through the lineup. After allowing a two out single to McCann in the third, Gee retired the next seven batters, continuing to mix in his curve as well as the occasional slider to complement his fastballs and changeup. Heyward singled to leadoff the sixth, but Gee got McCann and Uggla to fly out before walking Eric Hinske. Terry Collins pulled Gee in favor of Chris Capuano who retired pinch hitter Chipper Jones on a force out to end the threat. The bullpen held down the fort the rest of the way (minus a Heyward homer of Isringhausen) for the win.
With Chris Young on the disabled list until at least April 26th, Gee should get at least one more start, the first of which coming this weekend at home against Arizona. So far, in each of his six big league starts, Gee has shown the ability to throw all four of his pitches for strikes, work out of trouble, and accumulate innings (he was only at 89 pitches when removed from the game today and could have at least started the seventh under different circumstances-that is, if the offense provided more of a cushion). As long as he continues to do these things, it will be hard to keep him out of the starting rotation.