Facing the next-to-last batter of his career-best eight scoreless innings, Mets starter Dillon Gee threw 10 straight fastballs to Christian Yelich that ranged from 87 to 89 miles per hour before striking him out on an 82-mph changeup. That was about as good an at-bat as the Marlins managed against Gee, who gave up three hits in the Mets' 4-0 win Sunday at Citi Field.
As teammate David Wright said later: "Guys want a ton of strikeouts, guys want the sexiness of pitching, and I'm not sure if Dillon is all that sexy of a pitcher. He just goes out and gets the job done.
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"You look on the scoreboard and see a lot of 88s and 89s, and you don't truly understand and appreciate what he does until you see from behind the movement he has and his ability to pinpoint his pitches and throw all his pitches in any count. It's pretty special working behind him."
Winning is pretty sexy, and Gee (2-1, 2.88 ERA), who struck out six and walked four, capped the Mets' 10-game homestand on a high note. The 6-4 stretch moved them a season-high three games over .500 at 14-11. It was the 11th quality start in the past 13 games by the Mets' staff.
Manager Terry Collins said Gee, who has a 2.75 ERA since last May 30, might be underrated, but there was no question whom he was naming as Opening Day starter after Jon Niese suffered a spring training injury. "Dillon Gee deserves to be out there," Collins said. "You're going to look up at the end of the year, and this guy is going to have 15 or 16 wins because he can pitch. If he gets some run support, he wins baseball games."
That's what happened against the Marlins. Lucas Duda drove in one run in the second inning with a ground-rule double. The Mets added three in the fifth on an RBI double by Wright and a two-run homer by Chris Young against Miami starter Tom Koehler (2-2), a Stony Brook alum, who was lifted after the fifth.
With the help of some terrific defensive play behind him, Gee allowed only one hit through six innings, a leadoff single in the fourth to Marcell Ozuna. The only trouble came in the seventh when Jarrod Saltalamacchia lofted a major-league pop-up that fell untouched between Gee, Wright and catcher Anthony Recker to start the inning. Garrett Jones singled, but Recker fielded a bunt by Derek Dietrich and threw out the lead runner before Adeiny Hechavarria hit into an inning-ending double play.
Gee wanted the complete game, but after 110 pitches, Collins lifted him after eight for Carlos Torres.
"I threw quite a bit of pitches in that eighth inning, and I was wondering if he would let me go back out [with] over 100 pitches," Gee said. "I definitely wanted to go back out because 'CG' chances don't come along that often, but we won."
Collins didn't want to risk ruining a superb performance. "I didn't want him to hang a slider on the 113th pitch and have something go into the seats," Collins said.
Gee understood. He missed the complete game and didn't set the radar gun on fire, but as a pitcher in full control of his craft, he earned plenty of respect. "I'm not capable of reaching back and throwing something by somebody," Gee said. "I enjoy working the ball in and out and keeping them off balance and getting the weak contact I'm looking for. I take pride in it. I enjoy going out there and just trying to make 110 great pitches."