Dillon Gee pitches seven shutout innings to help Mets sweep Diamondbacks
PHOENIX - The Mets passed their first grueling test of the season, beating the bumbling Diamondbacks, 5-2, Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep. With the victory, the Mets wrapped up their three-city, nine-game road trip with a 6-3 record.
When they return to Citi Field Friday night for a series opener against the Braves, the Mets (8-7) will take with them a winning record for the first time this season.
"Tremendous road trip," manager Terry Collins said. "They picked it up, they got big hits when we needed hits."
The free-falling Diamondbacks became a convenient punching bag for the Mets, who used the series to jump-start their bats. After their offense struggled to get on track in the first two weeks, the Mets torched baseball's worst pitching staff, outscoring the Diamondbacks 21-5.
In Wednesday's finale, Dillon Gee (1-0) delivered his best outing of the season. He took a perfect game into the fifth inning and wound up tossing seven shutout innings.
Aware of Gee's tendency to fade late in his starts, Collins pulled the righthander after 72 pitches. Collins made his decision in the seventh, when he watched Paul Goldschmidt double off the wall in centerfield. Later in the inning, only a leaping catch by rightfielder Andrew Brown saved Gee from allowing a run-scoring double to Miguel Montero.
"I want this guy to leave feeling good instead of feeling disgusted," Collins said. "So, I took him out."
After the game, Gee said he wanted to stay in the game, though he understood why Collins was compelled to act.
"It's one of those things where I'm going to have to go out there and regain the confidence and the trust of the staff to let me keep going in the game," Gee said. "Terry did what he had to do. I respect it. But I definitely wanted to keep going."
Still, Gee had already done enough to put the Mets in position to send the reeling Diamondbacks to a 4-14 start, the worst record in baseball.
The Mets staked Gee to a 3-0 lead behind Anthony Recker's solo homer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis' sacrifice fly, his fourth RBI in two games since he was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas. Gee also helped himself with a bases-loaded groundout in the sixth to increase the Mets' lead to three runs.
From there, the Mets thwarted the Diamondbacks' attempts to rally. In the sixth, Gee made a head's-up defensive play to end the inning. Gerardo Parra sent a sinking liner into shallow center, prompting Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and Nieuwenhuis to give chase.
Nieuwenhuis went into a slide and briefly trapped the ball before it got away. With second base left uncovered, Parra hoped to take advantage. But Gee alertly covered the bag and took Tejada's throw to put down the tag despite getting tangled up with Parra.
With the help of two Diamondbacks errors in the ninth, the Mets added a pair of insurance runs on RBI singles by Murphy and David Wright to make it 5-0. Those runs proved helpful when Jose Valverde allowed solo shots to Aaron Hill and Goldschmidt in the bottom of the ninth.
But it wasn't enough to spoil the Mets' first three-game sweep in Arizona since 2011.
"It feels great to head home on a little bit of a streak here," said Recker, who homered twice on the road trip. "And going home and playing Atlanta, it will be a big series. I almost kind of wish we didn't have tomorrow off because I feel like we're playing really well."