Mets righthander Dillon Gee can exhale again after pitching 52/3 innings of three-hit ball and gaining his first victory since July 7 with a 2-0 decision against the Nationals Sunday.
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"It was eating at me the last few weeks that I was not going out and doing my job," said Gee, who had dropped his first three decisions, the longest losing streak of his young career. He rebounded by limiting the defending NL East champions to three singles and three walks with six strikeouts.
"It's huge for him," manager Terry Collins said. "When you get to the sixth or seventh inning against the Nationals, who have an outstanding lineup, you should be very happy. Now you know if you make your pitches, you can get anybody out."
Gee had endured months of anxiety and doubt since he experienced numbness in the fingers of his right hand after a 3-1 win in that July 7 game against the Cubs. Doctors at NewYorkPresbyterian Hospital discovered a blood clot in his right shoulder. A catheter was used to break up the clot before surgery was performed July 13 to repair a damaged artery.
Then came the long and treacherous road back. After a solid debut on April 4 in which he suffered a 2-1 loss to the Padres, the Phillies rocked him for seven runs and 10 hits in three innings five days later. He yielded a career high-tying three home runs and was on the losing end of an 8-3 decision in his shortest stint since he broke into the majors in 2010.
A nightmarish start in Colorado followed on April 16. Bone-chilling conditions made it impossible for Gee to get a feel for his pitches, and he paid dearly for poor location in an 8-4 loss. He trudged back to the dugout after being hammered for five runs and seven hits, including a home run, in 42/3 innings.
Game-time temperature was an autumnal 49 degrees at Citi Field Sunday. To Gee, it felt downright balmy. "It was definitely nice to come back and get a little sunshine," he said.
Improved conditions and a shrewder approach made the difference. He pounded the inside part of the plate with fastballs as part of a convincing 98-pitch effort in which he fired 57 strikes. That allowed him to torture the Nationals' heavy hitters with his changeup.
"The game plan was to mix in a lot of changeups," Gee said. "That is my best pitch, and I've got to get back to it."
The Mets lost seven consecutive series to the Nationals before Gee, slotted third in the rotation, helped swing the rubber match of the three-game series their way.
"If we want to be competitive in our division, we can't just have two starters pitching well," catcher John Buck said, adding, "It's huge for Dillon to pitch the way he did."