Wheeler, Mets wallop Alvarez, Marlins
Righty stifles Fish, adds RBI double; Duda, Wright hit mammoth HRs
NEW YORK -- After an important series victory against the first-place Braves and just three days away from an All-Star break vacation, it might have been understandable if the Mets began their final games of the first half looking flat against the Marlins on Friday night.
But any of those doubts were quelled by starter Zack Wheeler, who entered the night's contest having allowed just one run over three starts against Miami this season, which included his first career complete game and shutout June 19.
Wheeler wasn't as dominant this time, in front of 25,914 at Citi Field, but he continued to silence Marlins bats, throwing 114 pitches over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Impressing on the mound, in the field, and at the plate -- roping an RBI double -- the righty's versatile performance was more than enough to aid a 7-1 series-opening Mets victory.
"I feel great. That's how I wanted to end my first half," said Wheeler. "I've been able to execute all of my pitches against these guys and just go with the game plan. We had a good game plan against these guys."
Wheeler received support by a recently consistent and power-happy offensive attack, which put up a pair of runs three different times through five innings. Lucas Duda demolished a two-run homer off Henderson Alvarez to the second deck in right field in the third, and David Wright followed suit in the fifth, launching one to left field's second tier to give the Mets a breathing 6-1 lead.
"He's tough," said Duda, referring to Alvarez. "He just left a few balls up, and we were able to put the barrel on it."
Wright's homer was the Mets' 25th in 23 games, and it helped chase Henderson Alvarez -- who entered with the fifth-best ERA (2.27) in the National League -- after just five innings. Meanwhile, Wright kept hitting, and for the 19th time, he collected a career-high four hits.
"This guy is the kind of guy that can carry you if he gets hot," said manager Terry Collins. "We need him to get hot. ... His presence in that lineup swinging good is really important for us."
The Mets began their hitting attack with two outs in the second, roping three straight hits off Alvarez, whose scoreless streak against New York this season was snapped at 19 1/3 innings. Juan Lagares clubbed a double, Ruben Tejada singled him home and then eventually scored on Wheeler's double off the left-field wall.
Wheeler opened the game retiring the first seven hitters before surrendering a double to Adeiny Hechavarria, who collected two of the five hits allowed by Wheeler on the night. The righty also received help from his defense in the fourth when a strong relay from Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Tejada cut down Donovan Solano at home plate.
"Any time you can do that and take a run away from the other team, it really takes a little bit of air out of the bubble," said Collins.
Wheeler's only real blemish came in the fifth -- when he admitted later he lost his form -- serving up a run-scoring hit to Christian Yelich.
"These guys are swinging the bats like crazy right now," said Wheeler, referring to his offense. "You can let up a run like I did tonight and be all right."
Prior to the game, Collins credited Wheeler's dominance against the Marlins by their aggressiveness early in the count. But even as Miami worked deeper counts Friday, the club had little luck, only walking twice and striking out seven times.
"Tonight they laid off some stuff that they swung at last time, and therefore got himself in deep counts," said Collins. "But his stuff is good enough that he can throw it for strikes and get away with it and not have great contact made. He made some big pitches tonight when he had to make them [and] battled hard."
The Mets' bullpen required minimal work from Josh Edgin, Vic Black and Jeurys Familia, shutting down the Marlins after Lagares tacked on the final run with an RBI single.
The victory showed a resiliency the Mets have started to display recently, battling in tight games and then stepping on the throttle late. It also proved that the team isn't taking the last leg of their homestand lightly.
"It's easy to start looking ahead and start wanting to get those four days off," said Wright. "It'll come soon enough."