MIAMI — With a dominant outing from Zack Wheeler and timely hitting off the bench, the Mets turned near-infamy into victory Wednesday night.
The Mets beat the Marlins, 4-1, despite being no-hit into the seventh inning at Marlins Park. Pinch hitters Adrian Gonzalez (two-run single) and Michael Conforto (double immediately prior) spurred an eighth-inning rally that stood as the game-winner. Wheeler tossed seven innings of one-run ball in his first big-league start of the year.
The win is the Mets’ eighth in a row. They are 10-1, the best record in the majors, and went undefeated on a road trip six games or longer for the first time since July 1991.
“I don’t even know what to say,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “One of the things that has been really special about this team is every player is in the dugout the whole game. You don’t see that often. Everybody is present on the bench and they feed off each other.”
The game changed when Marlins manager Don Mattingly lifted lefthander Jarlin Garcia after six hitless innings. Garcia, making his first major-league start, threw a career-high 77 pitches.
Mattingly has a history of pulling pitchers in the middle of no-hit bids in an effort to protect them from high pitch counts. He turned it over to Drew Steckenrider, who allowed Todd Frazier’s two-out single in the seventh. Mattingly called the decision to remove Garcia “an easy one.”
“Obviously, they felt like he was done, but man, he did a good job tonight,” Callaway said.
Said Frazier: “Felt a little rejuvenation. Everybody got kickstarted again. We didn’t do anything that inning, but it got us going a little bit.”
In the eighth, the Mets struck for four runs, including a pair on Gonzalez’s single up the middle, against three pitchers. Wilmer Flores (double to left) and Frazier (sacrifice fly to center) added an RBI apiece.
That put Wheeler in line for the win. Wheeler — back from a one-game, season-opening stint with Triple-A Las Vegas — cruised. He allowed two hits and one walk, striking out seven. He is the first Mets starter to last into the seventh this season.
“He did a really good job getting ahead,” Callaway said. “He stayed relaxed. Good tempo between pitches. That tells me he wasn’t anxious or anything like that. Good confidence. Really good job.”
Wheeler retired the final 16 batters he faced. Miami’s run came in the first inning, when Miguel Rojas planted a 2-and-0 fastball over the heart of the plate into the leftfield stands. The 431-foot rocket was the career-high second homer of the year for Rojas, a light-hitting infielder.
“Very satisfying,” Wheeler said. “I was a little nervous at first. I made that one mistake to Rojas. The ball leaked back over the middle and he made me pay for it, but I was able to settle in after that.”
Wheeler’s first pitch became a footnote in Mets history. It marked the first time the team’s big-five group of starters — Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Wheeler — started consecutive games after years of anticipation.
Last week, in Las Vegas, Wheeler pitched well in front of an announced crowd of 7,083. This week, in Miami, Wheeler pitched even better in front of an announced crowd of 6,150.
The Mets have six comeback wins in their first 11 games of the season.
“What we’re going to see throughout the season is when we’re down, we know how to get the job done,” Callaway said. “We’re never going to give up. It’s going to be a case of ‘Hey, we’ve been there. We’ve done it. Let’s hang in there and try to come back.’ That’s probably the biggest part of a good start like this.”