There will be painful losses as well as deceivingly simple
victories such as the one Wheeler recorded Sunday, when the
right-hander threw 6 1/3 workmanlike innings to lead the Mets past
the Texas Rangers, 8-4, at Citi Field.
Wheeler (4-8) wasn't nearly as dominant Sunday, when he had just one
1-2-3 inning, as he was against Miami 17 days earlier, when he faced
one batter over the minimum in the Mets' 1-0 win.
But in allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings for the second straight
start, Wheeler provided more evidence that he's going to be less
prone to the types of meltdowns he endured on June 25, when he
followed up the shutout against the Marlins by giving up six runs in
a career-low two innings against Oakland.
"We've got a young pitcher on our hands who's going to be really,
really good," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Wheeler, whom the
Mets acquired from San Francisco in 2011, two years after the Giants
selected Wheeler with the sixth pick of the draft.
"And as I've told Zack: When you come with that kind of pedigree and
everybody's throwing their hopes on you and you have a bad outing,
all of a sudden (people ask) 'What's wrong? What's wrong?' Nothing's
wrong. It's a learning process."
On Sunday, that process included minimizing the damage -- Wheeler
gave up six hits and two walks but allowed just two runners past
first base -- and regaining his rhythm and mechanics, which eluded
him for a time in the third and fourth innings.
"It's a big day for me," Wheeler said. "I haven't always been able
to find it (again) after I lose the mechanics and the rhythm."
Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo belted Wheeler's second pitch of
the game for a double but was stranded at third. The only other
Rangers player to reach scoring position against Wheeler was catcher
Robinson Chirinos, who homered with two outs in the fourth.
Catcher Anthony Recker, who capped the Mets' five-run first inning
with a three-run homer, said Wheeler was able to do Sunday what he
couldn't on June 8, when he never found his mechanics against the
Giants and was lifted after 3 2/3 innings.
"He really pushed through it today," Recker said. "Above anything
else, I've seen him get a little bit frustrated at times. Today, I
never really got that sense from him. He just seemed to be kind of
calm and staying within himself for the most part. He did a really
The Mets (39-49) batted around in the first against Rangers
right-hander Nick Tepesch, who gave up all five runs with two outs,
before withstanding a late Texas rally to win the three-game series.
It was just the Mets' third series win in 10 series dating to June
First baseman Lucas Duda's double scored right fielder Curtis
Granderson, who led off the game off with a double. After left
fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis walked, center fielder Juan Lagares singled
home Duda before Recker homered just beyond the left field wall.
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Nieuwenhuis homered leading off the sixth inning and second baseman
Daniel Murphy's RBI double in the seventh scored Granderson.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada was 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the eighth.
Mets third baseman David Wright went 0-for-4 as his hitting streak
ended at 11 games.
The Rangers (38-50) have won just two of their last 10 series since
June 3, a 31-game stretch in which they have gone 9-22.
Center fielder Leonys Martin had two hits, including a two-run homer
in the Rangers' three-run seventh. Right fielder Alex Rios led off
the seventh with a homer.
"We kept fighting to put runs on the board," Rangers manager Ron
Washington said. "Just not enough to make up for that beginning that
Tepesch (3-4) settled down after the Mets' early outburst and
retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced. He allowed six runs,
five hits and four walks while striking out four in six innings.
"He hung in there," Washington said. "I wasn't certain how far he
was going to be able to get, but he got us through six."
NOTES: The Mets placed LHP Jonathon Niese on the 15-day disabled
list with a strained shoulder and recalled RHP Buddy Carlyle from
Triple-A Las Vegas. Niese is 5-4 with a team-best 2.96 ERA in 17
starts. ... Niese's next turn in the rotation on Wednesday will be
taken by RHP Dillon Gee, who threw a successful bullpen session
Sunday morning. Gee has not pitched for the Mets since May 10. ...
The Rangers' one through eight batters were the same Sunday as they
were Saturday. They have not used the same lineup in consecutive
games since June 5-6. ... RHP Nick Tepesch singled in the fifth for
his first major league hit. All three Rangers starters in the series
-- Tepesch and RHPs Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis -- collected a hit.
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