Zack Wheeler, 23, and the sixth pick of the 2009 Draft class that produced both Washington Nationals' starter Stephen Strasburg (no.1 overall) and reliever Drew Storen (no.10), was the top-ranked right-handed pitcher in the San Francisco Giants' organization in the two years after they drafted him out of East Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia with their '09 1st Round pick. Wheeler was acquired by the Mets in a late July 2011 trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants and was the top-rated prospect overall in New York's system according to Baseball America in each of the last two editions of BA's yearly prospect rankings. Wheeler made his major league debut on June 18th in Atlanta, GA's Turner Field. This afternoon in Citi Field in Flushing, Queens, the right-hander pitched in the Mets' home park for the first time and threw a 13-pitch, 2 K, 1-2-3 inning in the opening frame of the finale of the three-game set with NY's divisional rivals from D.C.
Gio Gonzalez, a Chicago White Sox' '04 1st Round pick, was traded three times before he debuted in the majors with the Oakland A's in 2008. In his second season in a Nationals uniform following a December 2011 deal with the Athletics, Gonzalez entered today's game with a (4-3) record, a 3.31 ERA, 3.59 FIP, nine home runs allowed, (0.83 HR/9), 42 walks surrendered (3.86 BB/9) and 97 Ks collected in (8.91 K/9) in sixteen starts and 98.0 IP. Start no.17 of 2013 for Gonzalez began with the left-hander giving up a one-out single by Daniel Murphy and a walk to David Wright in front of Marlon Byrd, but the Nats' lefty got Byrd swinging with a 94 mph 2-2 fastball up high, and got a fly to left by Josh Satin to end a 25-pitch bottom of the first. 0-0 in NY.
Zack Wheeler's 14th pitch of the game, the first pitch of the second, ended up bouncing off the Subway sign high up on the facade of the Pepsi Porch in right field in Citi Field. Adam LaRoche launched the 94 mph fastball from Wheeler and bounced it off the second deck. The ball fell from there and landed between the Modell's sign and the Wise Chips and snacks ad. HR no.12 of 2013 for LaRoche. 1-0 Nationals in the top of the second. Jayson Werth walked on four pitches in the next at bat, and Ian Desmond doubled to the right-center gap and off the Xerox sign on the right field wall to score Werth from first and make it 2-0 Nats. Desmond took third on a Roger Bernadina fly to right, then scored when Kurt Suzuki singled by the Mets' drawn-in infield with a grounder to short that bounced off Omar Quintanilla's glove. 3-0 Nationals. Denard Span battled Wheeler for eight pitches and lined the eighth to left-center for an RBI double and a 4-0 Nats' lead after one and a half. 28-pitch inning for the Mets' starter. 41 overall after two.
Gio Gonzalez got his second strikeout of the game from John Buck when he threw a 94 mph fastball outside by the Mets' catcher to end an eight-pitch at bat in NY's second. A 94 mph 0-2 heater got Juan Lagares for out no.2 and K no.3. A fly to left by Omar Quintanilla ended a 17-pitch, 1-2-3 inning that had Gonzalez up to 42 pitches overall.
With two down in the top of the third, Jayson Werth got a 93 mph 1-1 fastball from Zack Wheeler that he crushed, sending a solo home run out to left field, over the √ Verizon sign on the outfield wall, the Party City Deck seats and the "old wall" in Citi Field for a 380+ ft homer that made it 5-0 Nationals after two and a half. HR no.8 for Werth. Gio Gonzalez needed 14 pitches to retire the Mets in order in the bottom of the third, setting down the sixth, seventh and eighth-straight batters after the two-out walk to David Wright in the first. 56 pitches overall.
Zack Wheeler settled in with a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth against the Nats' 7-8-9 hitters, leaving him at 70 pitches overall after four. David Wright doubled to left-center on a 1-2 heater from Gio Gonzalez for the Mets' second hit of the game off the Nats' lefty. Gonzalez got Marlon Byrd swinging with a 1-2 bender for out no.1 and K no.6 in 3.1 IP. Josh Satin's groundout to short moved Wright to third, but John Buck's ended the bottom of the fourth with the score still 5-0 Nats. 18-pitch inning, 74 overall.
Denard Span took a 2-1 fastball to center for a leadoff single off Zack Wheeler in the Nationals' fifth. Anthony Rendon was 0 for 3 today with two Ks and 0 for 16 in the last four games after Wheeler got him looking with a 1-2 fastball for the first out of the top of the inning. Span took third when Ryan Zimmerman flew to center for the second out, but when Adam LaRoche walked with two down, Wheeler was lifted in favor of Mets' right-hander David Aardsma, who got Jayson Werth swinging to end the inning.
Gio Gonzalez got a fly to right from Juan Lagares with his first pitch in the bottom of the fifth. Omar Quintanilla and Mets' outfielder Andrew Brown followed with groundouts in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 inning that had Gonzalez up to 85 after 5.0 scoreless. 14 of the last 15 set down with Wright's walk in the first and double in the fourth providing the Mets' only baserunners after the first inning.
David Aardsma hit Ian Desmond with the first pitch of the sixth in what appeared to be a retaliatory strike for the Nats' pitching David Wright inside, hitting him once yesterday and knocking him down twice in the last two games. Desmond stole second in the next at bat. Roger Bernadina was robbed of a hit by Andrew Brown on a sliding play in right, but Desmond got back to second to avoid getting doubled up. Kurt Suzuki lined to short for out no.2 and Gio Gonzalez flew out to center to end the Nats' sixth with Desmond stranded.
Gio Gonzalez got his 7th K with a 94 mph 2-2 heater to Eric Young. Bernadina made a nice sliding catch in left for out no.2 and a drama free at bat against David Wright ended with a groundout to third and a trademark charging play and throw by Ryan Zimmerman. 11-pitch inning, 96 overall. 17 of 18 set down.
Anthony Rendon extended his hitless streak to 17 at bats with a fly to right for out no.2 of the top of the seventh and Mets' lefty Josh Edgin got a groundout from Ryan Zimmerman to end the inning. Gio Gonzalez came back out for another frame of work in the bottom of the inning and walked the first batter he faced, Zach Lutz. Josh Satin singled through short on the first pitch he saw. Gonzalez got a visit from pitching coach Steve McCatty, then got a lineout to center from John Buck for the first out of the frame. Juan Lagares popped out to short-center, not deep enough for a sac fly. A grounder to short ended the seventh and Gio Gonzalez's night.
• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 119 P, 84 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
Brandon Lyon gave up a one-out double by Jayson Werth, who was 2 for 3 with a home run and a double after the two-base hit. Roger Bernadina hit a two-out ground-rule double down the line in left to bring Werth in for a 6-0 lead. Kurt Suzuki got hold of an 0-1 curve in the next at bat and hit a two-run blast out to the corner in left. 8-0 Nationals. Chad Tracy walked and went around to third on Denard Span's two-out double. Anthony Rendon was 0 for 4 today, 0 for 11 in the series and 0 for 17 overall when he stepped up with two on and doubled in two runs to make it 10-0 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman singled off new pitcher Scott Rice to bring Rendon in and make it 11-0 after eight and a half in Citi Field. Ian Krol needed just seven pitches to retire the Mets in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Mets' catcher Anthony Recker came on to pitch in the ninth for the first time as a pro, becoming the sixth pitcher out of the pen for New York today. A walk to Jayson Werth and a bomb of a home run by Ian Desmond followed. Desi hit it out to the Acela Club in left field in Citi Field for a two-run home run and a 13-0 Nationals' lead after eight and a half. Ian Krol came back out for the bottom of the ninth and gave up a two-out double by Josh Satin and a two-run home run by John Buck that ended the streak of scoreless innings Krol had going to start his MLB career. 13-2. That's how it would end. Ballgame.
Nationals now 41-40