David Peterson has felled his personal beast, and in grand fashion, too.
After two rough career starts against the Phillies – including one a week ago – Peterson was simply dazzling Wednesday, dominating through six innings of two-hit ball as the Mets turned aside the Phillies, 5-1, at Citi Field. The offense, meanwhile, sparked to life, with the first three hitters in the lineup – Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor and Dom Smith – going 8-for-14 with a walk and three runs. James McCann added a two-run homer in the eighth, his first as a Met.
But Peterson was the marquee attraction, having apparently learned some hard-earned lessons when it comes to the Phillies righthand-heavy lineup. The lefty ably mixed his fastball and sinker with a sharp slider that kept the Phillies off kilter. He walked none, matched a career high with 10 strikeouts and, through four innings, the only runner to reach base got there on an error.
It was a welcome change of pace for Peterson, who, up until Wednesday, had his worst outings against the Phillies. On April 7, he allowed four first-inning runs against them, and two more in the later innings. In two career games against the team, he was 0-1 with a 16.50 ERA, compared with 6-2 with a 2.64 ERA against all other teams. After the outing last week, Peterson said he tweaked his mechanics, and he came out ready to deal, Luis Rojas said.
That "gave him something and you could tell he was on a mission tonight," Rojas said. "His poise is unbelievable. He’s up for adversity. He wanted the ball, he wanted to come in and pitch and you saw it from the first inning, he came in attacking…This kid doesn’t get into his head. He just corrects what he needs to correct and he just goes after it."
Peterson allowed his first hit with one out in the fifth, when Jean Segura tattooed an 0-and-2 sinker that caught the heart of the plate, blasting it to left for the solo homer, and cutting the Mets lead to 2-1.
"It’s one of the better ones, I think," Peterson said of the start. "I thought it was a good night. I felt good. McCann and I were on the same page working well."
Meanwhile, the Mets offense took their momentum from Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep and jumped on Zack Wheeler early. The first three Mets to face Wheeler singled, with Smith driving in Nimmo, who has now reached base safely for 21 straight games, dating to last season. Another run scored when Pete Alonso hit into a double play. Wheeler hit Jeff McNeil and walked Michael Conforto before getting out of the inning after 29 pitches.
"The toughest part for us to start the year [was] the lack of rhythm coming out of spring training and eight, nine days without playing a game," due to COVID protocols, McCann said. "It is what it is and we’ve battled from day one. Being able to see guys start to string together at-bats, start to string together hits, and see our offense come alive to help out our pitching [is great]. We’ve been pitching the ball extremely well so when our offense puts up runs, it’s huge."
And though Wheeler settled down after the first inning, the Mets did get another run against him in the seventh. Back-to-back singles by Lindor and Smith put runners on the corners and ended Wheeler’s night, and Alonso drove in the run with a sacrifice fly. McCann added the homer off JoJo Romero.
"This is what our offense can do – quality at bats put together," Rojas said. "I’m glad we got some big hits tonight. We’ve created situations to score but we just haven’t been getting the big hit and that’s starting to heat up. It’s just the reps – once again, those reps are helping, the in-game reps."
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