CINCINNATI — Zack Wheeler and Devin Mesoraco had been teammates for almost 19 hours when they took the field as batterymates Wednesday afternoon, but it felt like longer.
“Mes called a nice game back there,” Wheeler said. “I feel like I’ve thrown to him a few times now. It’s good when you have that camaraderie with somebody.”
The Mets acquired Mesoraco from the Reds in exchange for Matt Harvey about an hour before the teams’ game Tuesday. Mickey Callaway decided to get Mesoraco right in there the next day because, well, who knew the Reds’ lineup better than their own catcher? “His knowledge of their hitters is invaluable today,” Callaway said before the game.
The Reds beat the Mets, 2-1, in 10 innings, but the personnel decision paid off for Wheeler. He turned in his best start in weeks, a six-inning gem in which he allowed one run and struck out seven. He scattered four hits and three walks. Wheeler’s streak of 12 retired Reds ended in the sixth, when four of the first five batters reached. Joey Votto’s single to right scored Cincinnati’s run.
It was an important rebound for Wheeler, who was rocked by Colorado his last time out. He has had trouble in the first inning this season (14.40 ERA) and in his career (5.45), but avoided runs this time, working around a walk and a single.
“He went out there and attacked with his good stuff right from the get-go,” Callaway said. “That’s what you have to do. You have to make adjustments when things are going bad, and he did a good job with that.
“[Mesoraco] did a great job the whole game. He’s really emphasizing where he wants the pitches to the pitcher and really leading the pitcher on what he wants to do.”
Given Mesoraco’s familiarity with his suddenly former teammates, Wheeler’s prep for this start was a little different. He sat with Mesoraco for much of Tuesday’s game, analyzing how to attack each Cincinnati hitter. They did more of the same Wednesday morning.
“Threw a nice game and was able to hit my spots today and go from there,” Wheeler said. “I felt comfortable coming into the game, especially with him behind the plate. He played with a lot of these guys for a while, so he knew them like the back of his hand.”