Schwei’s Mets Notes: Wheeler’s Long Wait, Bruce’s Power Surge And More

By John Schweibacher
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After going 3-3 in their season-opening homestand, the New York Mets are 3-0 on their first road trip of 2017.

Zack Wheeler won his first start since 2014 and Michael Conforto hit a home run and scored three times as the Mets completed a sweep of the Phillies with a 5-4 win Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

Wheeler was charged with three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings, as he bounced back from his rough outing against Miami on Friday, when he allowed five runs on six hits in four innings in his first start since Sept. 25, 2014.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets

Zack Wheeler of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on April 7, 2017. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Here are some of the notable Mets pitchers who went the longest between starts for the club due to injury:
• Bill Pulsipher: 2 years, 10 months, 11 days
• Zack Wheeler: 2 years, 6 months, 13 days
• Tim Leary: 2 years, 5 months, 13 days
• Jason Isringhausen: 1 year, 8 months, 1 day
• Johan Santana: 1 year, 7 months, 3 days
• Matt Harvey: 1 year, 7 months, 1 day

Conforto, in his first game ever as the Mets’ leadoff hitter, hit his second home run of the season and scored three runs. According to the Baseball-Reference.com, only eight players in club history have had two or more such games in the regular season:
• Jose Reyes, 7
• Tommie Agee, 4
• Mookie Wilson, 3
• Lance Johnson, 3
• Mike Phillips, 2
• Rickey Henderson, 2
• Roger Cedeno, 2
• Angel Pagan, 2

On Tuesday night, the Mets hit seven home runs in a 14-4 blowout win in Philadelphia. The Mets have now hit seven or more home runs in a game three times at Citizens Bank Park since the Phillies began playing there in 2004. The Mets also hit seven homers in Philadelphia on April 19, 2005, and went deep eight times there on Aug. 24, 2015. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no other team in major league history had ever had three games with seven or home runs at a visiting ballpark.

Yoenis Cespedes hit three of the Mets’ seven home runs in the win, becoming the first player in team history with a pair of three-homer games. Cespedes also went deep three times against Colorado on Aug. 21, 2015 at Coors Field.

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On Monday night, the Mets took the opening game of their first road series of the year, 4-3 over the Phillies. Jay Bruce homered twice, including a two-run shot in the eighth that lifted the Mets to the victory in Philadelphia.

Jay Bruce

Mets outfielder Jay Bruce launches a two-run home run during the eighth inning against the Phillies on April 10, 2017, in Philadelphia. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Bruce hit four home runs in his first seven games played this season after hitting four over his last eight games at the end of the 2016 season. Elias noted that only one other player in Mets history hit at least four home runs over his last eight games in one season and then followed with at least four homers in his first eight games the next season: Darryl Strawberry, who hit four over the final seven games in 1986 and five in the first eight games in 1987.

MORE: Palladino: Small Samples From 2016 Haven’t Defined Bruce, Judge

On Sunday night, Noah Syndergaard struck out nine over seven innings, leading the Mets to a 5-2 victory over Miami at Citi Field. Syndergaard’s 16 K’s in his first two starts of the season without issuing a walk made him the first pitcher in Mets history to begin a season by striking out more than 15 opposing hitters before surrendering a base on balls.

On Saturday night, the Marlins made it two straight victories over the Mets, winning 8-1. Adam Conley allowed only one hit — a solo home run to Lucas Duda — over his five innings to get the win, lifting his career record against the Mets to 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in five starts.

According to Elias, five other pitchers were undefeated with an ERA no higher than 1.00 in their first five starts against the Mets:
• Jack Sanford, SF, 1962 (5-0, 0.68)
• Jim Bunning, Phi, 1964 (5-0, 0.80)
• Juan Marichal, SF, 1962-63 (4-0, 0.88)
• Gary Nolan, Cin, 1967 (4-0, 0.86)
• Doug Fister, Det/Was, 2013-15 (5-0, 0.82)

On Friday night, the Mets lost the opener of the three-game series with the Marlins, 7-2. Wei-Yin Chen pitched six innings for Miami to earn the win against the Mets and also picked up his first hit in the major leagues with an infield single in the fourth inning.

Chen had been 0-for-51 prior to that plate appearance. Pitcher Randy Tate owns the Mets’ club record for most career at-bats without a hit, going 0-for-41 in 1975, his only season in the major leagues.

Last Thursday night in Flushing, the Mets took the rubber game of their season-opening, three-game series against the Braves, 6-2. Wilmer Flores’ two-run home run off left-hander Jaime Garcia gave the Mets a three-run lead in the sixth inning.

Elias noted that Flores hit 11 home runs in 100 at-bats against lefties last season (one per 9.1 at-bats), the highest home run rate against southpaws in 2016 (minimum 100 at-bats). Nelson Cruz was next on the list, with 19 homers in 191 at-bats (one per 10.1).

Happy Recap: Sockin’ the Ball. The Mets are tied with the Texas Rangers for the most home runs in the majors with 16.

Nine Miles of Rough Road: Jose Reyes. Dropped from the leadoff spot to seventh after starting the season 1-for-27, Reyes is now 2-for-37 with 11 strikeouts this season.

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