ARLINGTON, Texas — The Mets got a quality start out of Zack Wheeler and a pair of home runs from Jay Bruce. But it took a dropped throw in the ninth inning on Wednesday night for the Mets to escape with a 4-3 victory over the Rangers.
“We certainly needed one like that, I can tell you,” manager Terry Collins said, shortly after the Mets rallied to pick up Jerry Blevins, who surrendered a game-tying homer while pitching in relief of Wheeler in the eighth. “We’ve lost enough games a lot of different ways.”
Pinch-runner Matt Reynolds scrambled home from second base with the winning run, sprinting all the way when Jose Reyes’ grounder forced second baseman Rougned Odor into an awkward position.
Odor fired to second, hoping to force Curtis Granderson, which would have ended the inning. But the throw one-hopped the bag and shortstop Elvis Andrus couldn’t hang on. Reynolds scored in place of Lucas Duda, who doubled with one out against Rangers closer Matt Bush.
“You go until someone stops you,” said Reynolds, who never broke stride as third base coach Glenn Sherlock waved him home.
With that, the Mets bailed out Blevins, who allowed Robinson Chirinos’ game-tying two run shot in the eighth. It was a rare blemish for the bullpen stalwart, who hadn’t allowed a run since May 14.
“It was a shock,” Collins said. “He doesn’t make mistakes in the middle of the plate like that.”
But after Reynolds’ mad dash home, Addison Reed closed it out with a quick inning in the ninth, assuring that the Mets (25-32) would salvage a split in the two-game series. The Mets have an off day on Thursday before beginning a four-game set against the Braves on Friday.
“Hopefully, this will get the ball rolling with us,” Reynolds said. “We’ve had a lot of tough letdowns but we still have a positive attitude in the clubhouse. Maybe, we’ll get things rolling now.”
Of course, starting pitching will be the key to any turnaround, and Wheeler offered hope that he might give the Mets the ace they’ve been lacking since Noah Syndergaard went down with a lat injury.
Bruce provided the initial cushion, giving the Mets a 3-1 lead by slamming a pair of homers off Rangers’ ace Yu Darvish.
“The two mistakes he made, he threw to me,” Bruce said after his fourth multi-homer game of the season.
Given the lead, Wheeler did not relinquish it, delivering the kind of quality start that has become increasingly rare for the Mets. By allowing just one run in seven innings, Wheeler extended a stretch in which he has eclipsed the six-inning mark in five of his last six outings, all while lowering his ERA to 3.45, the best in the rotation.
“Zack was tremendous tonight,” Collin said. “It would have been nice to get him the win but we’ll take the win any way we can get it right now.”
Wheeler overcame early trouble, permitting only one run after he loaded the bases in the first. A double play ended the inning, just as it did in the third, when the righty allowed the first two men to reach.
“I honestly didn’t have a clue where the ball was going in the first inning,” Wheeler said. “But after that I settled down, found it quick.”
Indeed, Wheeler pitched into the seventh, then repelled trouble. He got Delino DeShields to fly out, stranding a pair of runners to finish off the inning. Before he reached the dugout steps, catcher Travis d’Arnaud waited with a fist bump. There were more for Wheeler once he reached the rest of his teammates, his reward for delivering what the Mets desperately needed.
Said Collins: “This is the best I think he’s thrown all year.”