Wheeler and Conforto Deliver in a Mets Win Over the Nationals
Zack Wheeler won for the first time since April 29, Michael Conforto homered and the Mets defeated the Washington Nationals, 7-4, on Saturday.
Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes and Kevin Plawecki each had two hits as the light-hitting Mets scored seven runs for the first time since June 24. They came into the game last in the National League in batting average and were tied with the San Diego Padres for the third-fewest runs scored in the majors.
Wheeler (3-6) was brilliant for seven innings before tiring in the eighth in his longest outing since June 19, 2014. He struck out seven and allowed only one hit through the first five innings. Wheeler, a 28-year old right-hander, opened his season with a victory against Miami on April 11 and defeated the Padres two weeks later. But he was then winless in his next 13 starts. Saturday’s victory was Wheeler’s first at Citi Field this season, despite allowing just 10 earned runs over his last 37⅔ innings at home.
The Mets roughed up Austin Voth (0-1), who was making his major league debut. After a quiet first inning that included the 26-year old right-hander striking out the Mets leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo on three pitches, Voth ran into trouble in the second. He allowed back-to-back singles to Flores and Plawecki to start the inning. Jose Reyes followed with a chopper back toward Voth, who was unable to help his own cause, pausing for too long after fielding the ball to throw out the still speedy Reyes. Amed Rosario sent a single through the right side to score Flores and give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
A sacrifice fly by Wheeler and a run-scoring groundout by Nimmo stretched the lead to 3-0, providing Wheeler with a nice cushion early.
The Mets reached Voth for four more runs in the fifth, three coming on Conforto’s first home run since June 26. Voth, who did not pitch in his two previous stints with Washington, allowed all seven runs, leaving with one out in the fourth. He allowed nine hits and three walks and struck out three.
Wheeler, with a fastball that touched 97 miles per hour and an assortment of breaking pitches, was able to keep the Nationals off-balance until Bryce Harper’s R.B.I. single in the sixth. Manager Mickey Callaway left Wheeler in the game to face Harper again with a runner on in the eighth, and he struck out Harper on seven pitches. Harper finished 1 for 4 and has only two multihit games since June 9. The All-Star outfielder had a pregame meeting with Manager Dave Martinez after Harper failed to run out a fifth-inning ground ball Friday.
After finding success against Harper, Wheeler was not as lucky against Matt Adams. Adams lofted a fly ball to right field that appeared to carom off a fan’s hands and was played by Jose Bautista, who quickly pointed in the fan’s direction. The play was ruled a home run. A crew chief review upheld the call, and with that, ended Wheeler’s day.
Anthony Swarzak got the final out of the eighth, and Jeurys Familia pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 21 chances.