Mets manager Mickey Callaway’s uncanny moves are so on the money that it begs the question, “Is he clairvoyant?”
After counterpart Don Mattingly pulled rookie left-hander Jarlin Garcia after six scoreless innings in his first major league start, the Mets took a bite out of the Marlins bullpen, rallying from a 1-0 deficit to extend their winning streak to eight.
Monday morning quarterbacking in Miami will make some wonder did Mattingly make a dubious decision removing his young starter after tossing 75 pitches?
While on the other side of the diamond, Zack Wheeler gave Garcia a pitcher’s duel, in a stellar return to the rubber seven innings of one run on two hits, a walk and seven punch outs.
Wheeler’s victorious first start of the year was a wonderful surprise as he struggled mightily in spring training, beginning the season in the minors.
The right-hander attributed Wednesday night’s success with a change in his delivery. “It’s very satisfying,” he said. “I had a lot of trouble in the spring repeating it. It’s hard to get out of that other arm slot. But it’s paying off. The results showed that tonight, and I’m very happy with tonight’s performance.”
Drew Steckenrider, who mowed down the Mets on Tuesday, replaced Garcia with a 1-0 lead and lost the combined no-hit bid by surrendering a 1-2 liner to Todd Frazier.
In the top of the eighth, after Kevin Plawecki got plunked on the hand with a 98 mph fastball, and Amed Rosario struck out swinging, Callaway reached into his magical bench, bringing Michael Conforto in lieu of Juan Lagares. The future franchise outfielder drilled a double to deep right moving Plawecki to third with one out.
Callaway then opted the no-brainer of Adrian Gonzalez over a struggling Jose Reyes. The former Dodger, and current Met fan favorite, laced an RBI game-tying single to center, followed by Asdrubal Cabrera’s run-scoring base hit over the head of a confused Starlin Castro. Wilmer Flores, the platooning first baseman who keeps on giving, banged a ground rule double to deep left, for a 3-1 cushion and Todd Frazier padded the lead with a sacrifice fly to center.
Converted starter turned reliever Robert Gsellman struck out the side in the bottom frame on a combined diet of sliders, two-seam fastballs and changeups. Jerry Blevins erased his lone batter in the ninth, and AJ Ramos completed the two-hitter on a double play ball for the final two outs to record his first save of the season.