Sunday was the day.
New York Mets top prospect Zack Wheeler finally made his Citi Field debut, and Sandy Alderson and Co. must have been just as excited as their pitcher. The sun was shining, “Meet the Mets” was blasting over the speakers, and all was right in the baseball world.
The Georgia native received a loud ovation from fans during player introductions, and started out strong, striking out the first two batters he faced. Wheeler needed only 13 pitches in the first inning and popped 97 mph on the stadium radar gun.
Then things got ugly. Fast.
Adam LaRoche launched a first-pitch fastball into the Pepsi Porch in right field. Jayson Werth followed with a four pitch walk, and the Nationals scored three more runs in the frame.
Wheeler showed two things to the home crowd: he’s imensely talented, and he still has a LONG way to go. His mid-90s fastball is electric, but he can’t control it, as he struggled to locate the pitch all night. This same problem plagued him during is last start in Chicago also.
As Wheeler exited in the game in the fifth inning, faithful fans serenaded him one final time. He, along with fellow flame thrower, Matt Harvey, represents the future of a battered franchise. Even as the clouds came and the rain threatened, the future looked bright for the Mets. Young, controllable right handers are a commodity in this business, and the Mets have a few good ones.
In non-Wheeler news, this game was a laugher. Backup Catcher Anthony Recker pitched the ninth inning to a chorus of sarcastic cheers.
For the Nats, Gio Gonzalez dominated, allowing just three hits and two walks, while striking out seven over seven innings, and all eight starting position players earned at least a hit and RBI.
Next up, Shaun Marcum will take the hill Monday night against Wade Miley and the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first of a four-game series.