COMMENTARY | The future has arrived for the New York Mets.
On the same day in Atlanta, the Mets sent out 40 percent of what they hope will be a dominating starting staff for years to come, with Matt Harvey pitching the first game of a doubleheader against the Braves and Zack Wheeler making his major league debut in the nightcap. The Mets (27-40) took both games from the first-place Atlanta Braves.
This was a dream day in a season that the Mets hope doesn't become a nightmare. On the heels of one of their toughest losses of the season on Monday night -- the Braves scored two in the ninth to beat the Mets 2-1 -- Harvey once again toyed with a no-hitter, taking this one into the seventh inning before an infield hit by Jason Heyward broke it up.
Harvey lasted until the eighth when he put two runners on. Those runners, and one more, would eventually score, but the Mets had added a couple of insurance runs in the top of the inning and they had a small cushion, holding on for a much-needed 4-3 win.
Harvey struck out a career-high 13 and picked up his first win in a month. For once, the Mets gave him a few runs -- just enough, actually -- and he improved to 6-1 on the year.
Then it was Wheeler's turn.
In the first inning of the second game, he walked two and it was unclear what he struggled with more -- his control or nerves. He struck out Heyward and got Justin Upton to ground out. Then, with two on and a 2-0 count on B.J. Upton, pitching coach Dan Warthen made an early trip to the mound. Wheeler threw only strikes after that, getting Upton to ground out to third to end the inning.
In the second inning, after Wheeler had thrown 23 pitches in the first, SNY's Ron Darling commented on Wheeler's electric fastball and late movement. It was clocked consistently in the high 90s and in the second he used it to strike out the side. The first player born in the 1990s to play for the Mets was making an impression early on.
In the third inning, when it looked like the Mets' defense would let him down, and when he once again struggled with his control, he got B.J. Upton to fly out to right on his 25th pitch of the inning.
Wheeler was much more efficient in the fourth and fifth innings. In the sixth, the Braves had runners on first and second and one out. The biggest pitch for Wheeler was his 100th on the night when he struck out Dan Uggla swinging. He then got Chris Johnson to pop up to end the inning.
Wheeler allowed only four hits and struck out seven. He walked five but got out of every jam. The Mets scored two in the seventh and four in the eighth and beat the Braves 6-1, making a winner out of Wheeler in his big league debut.
So there you have it. A good day for the New York Mets. And we all know there haven't been too many good days recently.
Maybe Harvey and Wheeler, and this new era they appear to be ushering in, can change that.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
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- Zack Wheeler
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- Matt Harvey