Yankees chase Zack Wheeler as Mets lose first game of Subway Series doubleheader
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Mets manager Mickey Callaway talked about Zack Wheeler after the Mets lost to the Yankees, 12-5, in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Justin Toscano, Staff Writer
NEW YORK — The turning point came in the fourth, when Todd Frazier fielded a routine ground ball in a tie game and tossed it to first to end the inning.
Except Frazier put it way out of Dominic Smith’s reach, and the runner reached and took second on the error.
Two batters later, Luke Voit obliterated a three-run home run. The Yankees never looked back and the Mets never got closer.
“Just got away,” Frazier said. “Got to make a better throw. Slow ground ball, had plenty of time. Once I threw it, I knew it was going the wrong direction. That was on me, turned into a bigger inning because I couldn’t get the ball to first base, bottom line.”
The Mets, once up three runs early, lost,12-5 in Game 1 of a Subway Series doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. Momentum swung in the fourth and the afternoon left a confused Wheeler wondering what has gone wrong for him.
“The results aren’t there, but I feel great,” said Wheeler, whose ERA shot up to 4.87 after his latest start. “I just wish the results would come.”
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Voit’s blast began Wheeler’s undoing as the righty eventually allowed a career-high nine runs (though only five were earned). In his latest start, Wheeler encountered a familiar problem. He allowed two more homers, both in the same inning — one to Gio Urshela that tied the game, then Voit’s go-ahead blast.
Wheeler has now given up 13 homers this season. For context, he surrendered 14 all of last year. He’s never allowed more than 15, but he would need to be lights out to not break that mark this season.
“Any time you’re giving up more homers, it’s just execution,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “It’s getting the ball where you want to. You leave it in the middle against the wrong people, they’re going to have a chance to do some damage.”
Wheeler said he hung a slider to Voit.
But that 97 mph fastball to Urshela …
“I’m happy with the pitch,” Wheeler said. “Not happy with the result, but happy with the pitch.”
Another issue for him has been his pitching with runners on base. Coming into Tuesday, opponents were batting .313 against Wheeler with men on base.
“Out of the stretch,” Wheeler said, “I have not been that good this year.”
He said it isn’t a matter of being less comfortable out of the stretch than he was last year. He just sees it as something he needs to fix in his next bullpen.
The Yankees notched 10 hits in 42/3 innings against Wheeler. A couple could have gone the other way, though.
In the third inning, Gary Sanchez blooped a ball down the line in shallow right. Jeff McNeil sprinted back from second base and laid out. However, it landed just out of his reach and he appeared to hurt himself. The athletic trainers went out to check on him, but he stayed in the game.
Callaway said the play “numbed (McNeil’s) armpit,” but added that he was fine.
Kendrys Morales hit a weak fly ball to left field in the fifth inning and a sliding J.D. Davis couldn’t make the play. Morales, who ended up at second, scored moments later.
Brett Gardner smoked a ball to deep right in the fifth and Michael Conforto dove, but couldn’t snatch it. One run scored, giving the Yankees eight unanswered runs and a 9-4 lead at that point.
“It was a combination of giving the other team some extra outs, a couple of bloop hits that scored some runs and a couple homers,” Callaway said. “It was kind of plain and simple. He did have great stuff. His fastball was electric. He hung a couple of sliders, made a couple of good pitches and got jam shots that got over the infield, made some big pitches to get some ground balls we didn’t capitalize on.”
What might haunt the Mets about Game 1 is that they were initially in a good position to win. The Yankees scored first, but McNeil launched a three-run shot off Masahiro Tanaka in the third to give the Mets a 4-1 lead. After the ball left the yard, there was a somewhat-loud “Let’s Go Mets!” chant here.
Eventually, those fans were silenced as the Yankees took control in their house.
This became another forgettable outing for Wheeler. On April 7, he gave up seven earned runs, and then on May 16, he allowed six. He’s surrendered four or more earned runs six times this year.
“He always has good stuff, he’s always had good stuff, he always will have good stuff,” Callaway said. “But you’ve just got to execute pitches. I think he did execute quite a few pitches. We gave them some extra outs and (there) were some bloops.”
If you’re looking for a positive in this loss, it’s that the Mets were down five runs when Wheeler departed. Had they been within a run or two, they may have used a couple top relievers to try and hold the Yankees.
Instead, Wilmer Font came in and ate up 2 1/3 innings. Then Tim Peterson came entered after him.
The Yankees stamped this one when Sanchez drilled a two-run homer off Peterson. According to Statcast, it left the bat at 107.5 mph and went an estimated 422 feet to put the Yankees up 12-5. They finished with 15 hits and scored seven of their runs with two outs.
The Mets’ high-leverage arms will be rested for Game 2.
The second game of the doubleheader is set for 7:05 p.m. Jason Vargas will take the mound for the Mets, who will look to salvage the first part of this year’s Subway Series.
The Mets, for the most part, fizzled out after McNeil’s home run on Tuesday afternoon. There is no telling how this game would have played out had they scored more runs and made this a true shootout.
But it might be fair to wonder what would have happened if the fourth inning had not been extended on an error, and the teams instead went to the fifth in a tie game.
“It’s one me,” Frazier said. “The end of that inning is one me. Just couldn’t find a way to get the out, I had an easy play to make and it changed the whole game around.”