Rosario's speed, 3 hits lead Mets to series win

New York collects 14 hits; Wheeler fans nine batters in seven innings

September 6th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- When tracks pitches with two strikes, he seems to lean his weight forward, training his eyes on the ball as long as possible before deciding whether to swing. Mets manager Mickey Callaway likens Rosario's motion to that of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, whose bat speed allowed him to make those choices split seconds later than lesser hitters would.

"I think he's seeing the ball better," Callaway said of Rosario. "He's getting more and more confident that he's going to lay off tough pitches. And the main thing is when he gets his pitch, he doesn't miss it."

Certainly not on the Mets' nine-game road swing through Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, which Rosario capped Wednesday with three hits in their 7-3 win at Dodger Stadium. Hitting safely in all eight games he played on the trip, Rosario batted .459 with a 1.068 OPS, five runs, three doubles, a triple, three RBIs and three stolen bases, offering the Mets an extended glimpse at the player they hope he can become.

"Basically, what I'm doing is putting a lot of trust in myself," Rosario said through an interpreter. "I trust myself a lot more than in the beginning. … I think that confidence in myself is everything."

On Wednesday, Rosario was the first batter from either team to reach safely, singling to right field to open the fourth against . He scored that inning, singled to drive home another run in the fifth, then singled and came home yet again in the seventh.

Rosario's relentlessness was part of a 14-hit attack to support Mets starter Zack Wheeler, who allowed home runs to and , but nothing else in seven innings.

Throughout this season, the Mets have seen other spurts of excellence from Rosario, their former top prospect whose inconsistency saddled him with a .230 average as recently as early August. Yet in his last 24 games, Rosario has 12 multi-hit efforts, including six in eight starts on the road trip. It's been his best extended run as a big leaguer, at just the right time for a Mets club in full evaluation mode heading into the winter.

A team with uncertainties at catcher, second base, outfield and the bullpen can at least feel confident in Rosario at shortstop.

"It's real gratifying," Callaway said. "We spend a ton of time trying to work on the right things with these guys, and I think it's all paying dividends."


Perfect through 11 batters, Wheeler experienced a frightening moment when lined a ball off his chest with two outs in the fourth. Trainer Joe Golia and pitching coach Dave Eiland asked Wheeler to throw a warm-up pitch before allowing him to continue, which they eventually did. The next batter, Muncy, hit a two-run homer.

Rebounding to strike out Bellinger, Wheeler retired seven of eight until Bellinger homered with one out in the seventh. That marked the first time Wheeler had allowed more than two runs in a game since before the All-Star break.

"He was having trouble catching his breath there for a second," Callaway said. "So [the line drive] can definitely come into play. But he settled down and finished the game. He was a little tight there at the end, so it was a good thing he was out of pitches."

Wheeler was unavailable to discuss his injury because he was receiving a CT scan after the game. He also underwent X-rays, which were negative.


Nine of the Mets' 14 hits clocked in with exit velocities under 80 mph, according to Statcast™ data. Five of them were under 70 mph.

"We were putting the ball in play and giving ourselves a chance," Callaway said. "If you touch the ball sometimes, you have a better outcome than if you strike out. We did a lot of that tonight."


Already down a catcher due to 's neck injury, the Mets suffered another blow in the seventh when reliever Pat Venditte hit in the left ribcage with a pitch. Although Plawecki initially stayed in the game, he did not return on defense for the top of the eighth.

"He was pretty sore," Callaway said. "We went down and tested him out to see if he could catch and throw, and he was having trouble throwing. We just couldn't send him back out there."

took over for Plawecki, who underwent a CT scan after the game. Mesoraco, who is dealing with a bulging disc issue in his neck, is scheduled to meet with doctors on Thursday. The Mets will consider calling up a fourth catcher -- most likely , who is already familiar with the pitching staff -- before Friday's game.


"There's value to it, especially with the way our lineup is right now. If you've got four or five guys out there just hitting homers, and you've got a guy that's going out there hitting .330, and hitting 30 homers, and driving in 110, he probably needs to be in the two-hole. We don't have that. So with who we have currently, I love the idea of being a little more traditional, and putting him in the two-hole and making things happen." -- Callaway, on McNeil batting second behind Rosario


The Mets hope to spoil both Philadelphia's playoff hopes and 's National League Cy Young Award candidacy when they open a three-game series Friday against the Phillies at Citi Field. will start opposite the right-handed Nola, who, along with Max Scherzer, is one of two pitchers with a realistic shot to challenge 's Cy Young bid. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET.