May 31, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (2012) Johan Santana Throws First Mets No Hitter

Friday night June 1st, 2012: At first it seemed like any other New York night. Terry Collins' New York Mets were playing well & surprising everyone with a 29-23 record, just one game out of first place. 27,069 fans came to Citi Field to see the Mets go up against the reigning World Champion, St Louis Cardinals (27-25).

The Mets sent Johan Santana to the mound, 2-2 with a 2.75 ERA. Santana had missed all of 2011 due to injury, he had an impressive Opening Day win, pitching five scoreless innings then struggled. In his last start he threw a complete game four hit shutout at Citi Field, beating the San Diego Padres. On this night he was even better, he went out & made Mets history.

After a quiet 1st inning, he walked two batters in the 2nd but struck out Matt Adams & Tyler Green to end the inning. Santana would walk the lead off batters in the 4th & 5th innings but retired the sides with no trouble.

In the 6th, ex-Met Carlos Beltran drilled a line drive down the line that was called a foul ball. Replays showed the ball may have been fair, but the ruling was a foul ball & that's that. A one two three sixth inning, had everyone feeling the no hitter looming. The Mets were well ahead with a 5-0 lead at this point.

In the home 4th, Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled & David Wright doubled. Luca Duda followed with a sac fly making it 1-0. Daniel Murphy then tripled off the Cards; Adam Wainwright to make it 2-0. In the 6th Lucas Duda blasted a three run HR over the right centerfield wall. In the 7th inning Santana got David Freese to pop out to first base, there were eight outs to go for the no hitter.

The next batter was Yadier Molina, a Mets villain who had the winning HR in the 2006 NLCS. Molina was out to spoil another Mets historic day, he hit a fly ball deep to left field. Queens born Mike Baxter chased the ball which was hit over his head, he made a leaping catch crashing into the left field wall & fell to the ground. He injured himself but held on to the ball for out number two.

Everyone held their breath during the play, but a huge sigh of relief came when Baxter made one of the most important catches in Mets history. Baxter was removed from the game but got a huge ovation as he left & big thank you from Santana.

Matt Adams grounded out for the third out, six more outs to go for Mets history. In the home 7th, the Mets scored two more runs as David Wright walked with the bases loaded & Daniel Murphy singled another run in, 8-0 Mets.

In the top of the 8th, Tyler Greene flew out to left & pinch hitter; Shane Robinson struck out. Carlos Beltran then hit a weak liner up the middle, but Murphy was able to make a nice grab to end the inning. By this time Santana had passed his usual pitch count & everyone was wondering if he would be pulled. But Manager Terry Collins & pitching coach Dan Warthan knew how important this game was to the organization & to the fans.

 Santana came out for the 9th, the crowd cheered & remained on their feet as they had been. The viewers at home held their breath as well. Matt Holliday lined out to centerfield, on another close play but Andres Torres made a fine catch.

With Two more outs to go for history. Allen Craig then flew out to left for out #2. With the fans going wild, David Freese struck out swinging & Johan Santana had thrown the first no hitter in Mets history.

There had been 35 one hitters thrown by Mets pitchers, and though many have come close, it was on this night it was done for the very first time. The announcers knew how important it was to the us long time fans as did Santana himself. He said "I am very happy & happy for you guys, the first one" as he acknowledged the Citi Field crowd after the game.

Mets broadcaster; Gary Cohen called it: "He struck him out! It has happened. In their 51st season, Johan Santana has thrown the first no-hitter in New York Mets history.”

Throughout the game us longtime Mets fans, could not help but think of Tom Seaver & Dwight Gooden, the two best pitchers the franchise has ever had. They both came close, especially Seaver who tossed five one hitters. Guys like Jon Matlack, Gary Gentry , Tom Glavine & David Cone had all thrown two Mets one hitters each. Steve Traschel threw three Mets one hitters but Santana the only no hitter.

Former Met; Nolan Ryan, who has throw seven no hitters & a Mets one hitter said it best; "They've had a lot of history of one-hitters, and it's because of the great pitchers they've had there. When you think of Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden there, and some of the other guys, it's amazing they never did."

Mets third baseman David Wright said; "Short of Tom Seaver, I couldn't think of a better guy to have this recognition."

During the post game interview; Justin Turner gave Johan a cream pie to the face. It was a Turner tradition but maybe out of line on this special occasion.

Remembering Mets History: (2013) Mets Enjoy Their First Inter League Subway Series Sweep

Monday May 27th 2013: The Memorial Day subway series began at Citi Field, this year's version starting for the first time on a Monday, rather than on a weekend series. Through the years the subway series thing has died down & fans have become a lot less interested than they once were. Proof being the back to back two game series during the week.

In the first game of the matchup; Mets manager Terry Collins sent Jonathon Niese to the mound against Philip Hughes in front of 32,000 at Citi Field.

Both pitchers pitched well, holding each other scoreless through five innings, scattering a few harmless hits along the way. In the top of the 6th Bret Gardner, tripled down the left field line & scored on a Jayson Nix base hit. In the home 7th, Mets Captain David Wright took things into his own hands, blasting a long HR to left center field.

In the bottom of the 8th pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin, drew a walk & advanced on a passed ball from pitcher Dave Robertson. Ruben Tejada then chopped a grounder to second, Mike Baxter attempted to score, running on contact & was nailed out at home.

With two out, Daniel Murphy, who had been robbed of a HR in the 6th inning, when Bret Gardner caught the ball off the top of the fence, came through. He singled to center field, scoring Valdespin who ended up being the game winning run.

In the 9th Bobby Parnell struck out David Adams, but then walked Ichiro Suzuki putting the tying run on base. Parnell who is developing into a fine closer, struck out Lyle Overbay & got Travis Hafner to pop out fr the last out. Mets up one game to none.

Tuesday May 28th 2013: In the second game at Citi Field, the Mets Fred Wilpon let Mariano Rivera throw out the ceremonial first pitch to former Mets reliever John Franco. Call me a bad sport, buy giving an honor like that to a long time rival is not something I support. 

A crowd of 31,877 filled up Citi Field. There was a lot of excitement around the park, because the latest Mets star pitcher Matt Harvey was taking the mound. Harvey came into the game at 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA (third in the NL) & 74 strike outs (second in the NL).

Harvey did not disappoint, he struck out eight through the first six innings & allowed just one hit. In the 8th inning, he took a line drive to the back, picked up the ball through to first & waved off the trainers. He was fine, taking charge & inspiring his team, in their final at bat. 

During the game former Mets All Star pitcher; Dwight Gooden sat in the stands, updating Harvey's K count on twitter- as usual.

After rolling along, in the 6th inning; Bret Gardner singled to right field, on the play he advanced to second as Marlon Byrd booted the ball. With two out, Lyle Overbay blasted a shot through the middle behind Harvey, scoring the first run of the game. In the bottom of the inning, Ruben Tejada was picked off second base in a close call. Manager Terry Collins got into a heated argument with umpire Adrian Johnson & was ejected from the game.

On the A.L. New York's team side, pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was also rolling along; allowing just four hits through seven innings with seven strike outs.

In the 9th inning, Mariano Rivera came to the mound to try to close it out. He had everyone thinking it was going to be a done deal, since he had not blown a save yet all season. But it was not meant to be, for tonight he would not get one Mets batter out & would leave the mound with his first loss of the year. In his career, the second highest ERA he had allowed to any team had been to the New York Mets.

Daniel Murphy, the hero of last night's game, led off with a ground rule double to left field. Captain David Wright, another hero of last night's game, took charge tying up the game with a single to center. Mr. Rivera's head spun around as he still had not recorded an out. Then Lucas Duda, came through with a line drive into short right field, that dropped in for the hit, Wright motored around third scoring the winning run as the Mets fans went wild.

Duda had his second walk off winning hit of his career & Rivera had his third walk off loss to the Mets. The winning pitcher was Scott Rice who went to 3-3 after pitching a scoreless 9th inning.

Matt Harevy although he got no decision, he kept himself at 5-0, as he had pitched eight inning, allowing one run on six hits while striking out ten batters. It was an exciting night for the Mets & their fans. Mets sweep at home, up two games to none.

Wednesday May 29th 2013: The series switched across town to the Bronx, as 43,000 fans came out for Wednesday nights matchup of Jeremy Hefner (0-5) looking for his first win, against David Phelps (3-2).

Before the game, Manager Terry Collins called Ike Davis & Ruben Tejada into his office for a private closed door meeting.

The two players, who are key members of the Mets infield have been struggling mightily. Davis was batting .160 with just 4 HRs & a previous 1-42 slump, striking out 18 times.

Tejada was hitting .209 & was making mental errors on defense, which was normally his strong point. The players were both told, that if their play didn't pick up, they would be headed for the minor leagues.

Quotes: Terry Collins said: "We're 50 games into it, All the kinks should be out by now. There are guys that play very well when they're comfortable, and maybe there's those guys who play even more aggressively when they're standing on the edge, We'll find out."

The Mets first inning, certainly was an exciting one, fresh off the sweep at Citi the Mets continued; Tejada responded with a lead off base hit then Daniel Murphy doubled to bring in the first run. David Wright walked & with one out John Buck singled to right field bringing in Murphy. Rick Ankiel drew a walk loading the bases. Marlon Byrd hit a double play ball to third base, but Jason Nix booted the ball & Wright scored.

Next; Ike Davis responded to his managers meeting with a base hit to left center scoring Buck & Ankiel, making it 5-0. It was the first of Ike's two hits on the night. Phelps was knocked out of the first inning, taking the loss. The Mets sent ten men to the plate, scoring five runs on four hits two walks & a costly error.

Hefner went on to his first win of the year, going six innings allowing three runs on nine hits with five strike outs.

In the top of the 3rd, Marlon Byrd added a solo HR. In the 4th Lucas Duda, one of the previous nights heroes, doubled, scoring David Wright & Mike Baxter ,making it 8-0. Rick Ankiel added a 9th inning RBI base hit topping off the 9-4 Mets win. Latroy Hawkins closed out the game- Mets up three games to none.

In that 9th inning, Ruben Tejada injured himself going after a pop fly & sliding out of Lucas Duda's way. He was placed on the DL, hoping the rest will get him back on track when healthy.

Thursday: The Mets were excited looking for a series sweep as the AL New York team was trying to salvage a game. Dillon Gee (2-6) was coming off a personal two game loss streak & entered with an ERA over six.

Gee's place in the rotation is also in jeopardy, as Zack Wheeler is getting ready to be brought up from the minors, very soon. Justin Turner, playing first base tonight, as Ike Davis got the night off, led off with a double but the Mets failed to score off Vidal Nuno.

In the 2nd, Lucas Duda drew a lead off walk & Marlon Byrd blasted a HR to left field in the second deck, putting the Mets up 2-0. It was Byrd's second HR in two nights, number six on the year.

Gee served up a HR in the bottom of the inning, but it was the only run he would allow, the only run the AL New York team would get as well. Gee was fantastic stealing the show, he pitched into the 8th inning allowing just four hits striking out twelve, earning the win, leading the Mets to the series sweep.

In the 8th inning, the Mets added an insurance run, as Omar Quintanilla (filling in for the injured Tejada) walked, advancing to second on a fielder's choice. With two outs, David Wright was walked & John Buck followed with another RBI base hit. It was just a dribbler down third base, but enough for his his team leading 35th RBI of the year (6th most in the NL). Buck greeted Joba Chamberlin who had just come back from the DL, with that hit.

The Mets Scott Rice, who has been pitching better each day, held down the cross town rivals, as Bobby Parnell closed the door for his ninth save & twentieth game finished on the year (4th in the league).

It was the first time the Mets swept the entire subway series in interleague play; Mets four games- cross town rivals none.

Quotes: Manager Terry Collins: The hardest thing I've done is try to keep these guys positive. It wasn't about changing stances or shuffling bullpens. It was about trying to keep the guys in the clubhouse positive. Everybody goes through some bad times. You've got to work your way out of it."

May 30, 2016

Remebering Mets History: (1964) Mets Play the Longest Doubleheader In MLB History (9 Hours 52 Minutes)

Sunday May 31st 1964: The second place San Francisco Giants (25-17) just one game out of first place, returned to New York, just seven years after leaving the Polo Grounds for the west coast. They always attracted big crowds when they came back to play the Mets & today's double header drew  57,037 fans. 

It was a day to go down in the history books, as this was to be the longest double header in baseball history. The double header lasted a total of nine hours fifty two minutes. 

The first game was a breeze, as the Giants behind Hall of Famer; Juan Marichal lasting just two hours & twenty nine minutes. The Giants beat the Mets & pitcher Al Jackson, 5-3 in nine innings.

Night Cap:

Starting Lineups

The second game started with the Mets Bill Wakefield going up against Bobby Bolin. Wakefield was hit for two runs in the 1st inning,. A leadoff walk to Harvey Kuenn led to an RBI double by Jesus Alou & then a base hit to Hall of Famer Willie Mays.

Wakefield was removed by Mets skipper; Casey Stengel after just two innings. In the 3rd the Giants hit six singles & scored four more times off pitchers; Craig Anderson & Tom Sturdivant. Tom Haller, Chuck Hiller, Jim Ray Hart & Bob Bolin all delivered RBIs. 

The Mets had scored a run on catcher Cris Cannizzaro's single in the 2nd & were down 6-1 in the 6th inning. Joe Christopher singled & up came a young twenty year old Ed Kranepool. Kranepool was an original Met, the teams first bonus baby, home grown out of the Soundview section of the Bronx. 

The youngster had just arrived after being called up from the minors, where he just played in both games of a double header the day before. Kranepool was in for a long day, as he would play in both games of this doubleheader, all 32 innings. In this at bat he tripled, bringing in a run & then scored on Charlie Smith's base hit making it 6-3 Giants.

In the 7th; the Mets Joe Christopher hit a three run HR to tie the game, all of a sudden making this an exciting ball game. It was just the start.

The Giants would send three future Mets; Ken MacKenzie, Bob Shaw & Ron Herbel to the mound through  the 11th inning. It was then Gaylord Perry, the future Hall of Famer came in to pitch an incredible ten innings of relief. He allowed no earned runs on seven hits with one walk & nine strike outs.

After the first three Mets pitchers, Frank Lary pitched two scoreless innings. Then Larry Bearnarth threw seven shut out innings, allowing just three hits with four strike outs. Galen Cisco came on in the 15th inning, pitching another nine innings & would eventually take the loss.

Triple Play: In the 14th inning, Jesus Alou singled & Willie Mays walked. Orlando Cepeda hit a hard line drive up the middle, but Mets short stop; Roy McMillan snagged it, stepped on second to get Alou & threw to first to nail Mays for the triple play. The excitement continued.

The game rolled along as one of the longest ever in baseball history, entering its 23d inning. With one out the Giants got a triple from Jim Davenport & an intentonal walk to Craig Peterson. Pinch hitter Del Crandall doubled bringing in Davenport. Then Alou added an RBI single to make it 8-6. Bob Hendley closed out the bottom of the 23rd, retiring the Mets in order.

The game is still not the longest for the Mets, they would play a 25 inning game on September 11th 1974 & a 24 inning game on April 15th 1968. The game ranks as the 8th longest game to play in baseball history.A total of 41 players were used in the game, with New York using 21 of them. Both teams used six pitchers each.
Umpire Ed Sudol

Trivia: This game was the first extra inning contest at Shea Stadium which had just opened up in April 1964, two months earlier.

Trivia: New Jersey born Umpire Ed Sudol, was the home plate umpire for this game & strangely enough, was the home plate umpire for all three of the Mets longest games mentioned above.

Mid Nineties New Jersey Born Mets Player: Joe Orsulak (1993-1995)

Joseph Michael Orsulak was born on May 31st, 162 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. The six foot left handed hitting Orsulak attended Parsippany Hills High School getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 6th round of the 1980 draft. He hit well enough in two years to go from A ball to AAA Hawaii by 1983.

He debuted with the Pirates in 1983 playing in seven games. By 1985 he was the Pirates regular outfielder batting .300 with 14 doubles 24 stolen bases a .342 on base % 7 21 RBIs coming in sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 1986 his average fell to .249 & he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles at the end of the year. He spent five seasons with Baltimore as a regular player, batting over .280 three times, while posting good on base percentages.

In 1992 he helped christen the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards getting two hits in a game against the Cleveland Indians. His strong arm had him lead the AL in assists (22) in 1991, while making a league leading 13 assists just in left field alone. That year he also posted a perfect .1000 fielding % as a left fielder. He came in fifth place with eight assists in right field in both 1992 & 1994. In December of 1992 Orsulak signed as a free agent with the New York Mets.

Orsulak was considered the fourth outfielder for the '93 Mets, but he actually got into more games then Vince Coleman & Ryan Thompson. He got into 134 games overall (fourth most on the club). Orsulak made his Mets debut on April 5th Opening Day playing centerfield & batting 6th. He had a good start batting over .290 by early May, when he hit his first Mets HR in a 4-0 win over the Florida Marlins. He kept his average up having eight multi hit games in May & starting out June with a nine game hit streak, hitting safely in 13 of 16 games.

In July he got his average over .300, he had three separate three hit games & hit two HRs both coming in the final week of the month. On August 30th he hit a bottom of the 8th inning HR to break a 4-4 tie against the Houston Astros, leading the Mets to a 5-4 victory. For the season he batted .284 (second on the club to Eddie Murray's .285) with a .331 on base % 8 HRs 15 doubles & 35 RBIs. In the outfield he had nine assists with a .978 fielding %.

In 1994 he pinch hit on Opening Day staying in the game to go 0-2 in the Mets 12-6 win at Wrigley Field. He got the starts in the next two games & drove in runs in each of them. He had a big start to May hitting a three run HR against the Dodgers in 1 7-4 Mets win at Shea onMay 1st. Two days later he hit a grand slam HR against Michael Jackson & the San Francisco Giants. From May 10th through May 17th he hit two more HRs and drove in eight runs.

On May 17th at Shea Stadium he hit a two run HR against the Florida Marlins & then won the game with a walk off RBI single scoring Todd Hundley. In June he produced 13 runs, with four multi RBI games, although the Mets lost all but two of the games he drove runs in on. He ended the strike shortened season batting .260 with 8 HRs 3 doubles 42 RBIs & a .299 on base %.

In 1995 Orsulak was the Mets main left fielder, playing alongside Bret Butler & Carl Everett. On Opening Day he came into the game late, driving in a run in an extra inning loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

On April 29th his bases loaded single off Vicente Palacios scored Bobby Bonilla with the game winning run. By mid May he was batting over .400, naturally he tailed off but kept his average above .290 through mid August. On June after coming into the game late, he singled up the middle off Florida's Randy Veres, scoring Tim Bogar with the games winning run.

In July he had another game winning moment, when his 7th inning sac fly scored Jeff Kent breaking a 2-2 tie against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On August 7th, he hit a three run HR off Florida's Terry Mathews, bringing the Mets from a 2-1 deficit to a 5-2 victory. He had another big day later in the month getting three hits & driving in three runs in a 7-6 Mets win over the San Diego Padres. For the second place 1995 Mets, Orsulak batted .283 with one HR 19 doubles a .323 on base % & 37 RBIs.

Orsulak put in an under rated three year career with the Mets, batting .276 with 579 hits 35 HRs 221 RBIs & a .331 on base % in 338 games. Orsulak was let go to free agency signing a deal with the Florida Marlins. He hit just .221 and was traded to the Montreal Expos in the Cliff Floyd deal. Orsulak played the 1997 season with the Expos batting .227 in 106 games closing out his career.

In a 14 year career he batted .273 with 1173 hits 186 doubles 37 trples 57 HRs 405 RBIs 93 stolen bases & a .324 on base % in 1494 games played. As an outfielder he made 105 assists with a .982 fielding % in 1253 games.

Former Mets Second Round Draft Pick: Dwight Bernard (1978-1979)

Dwight Bernard was born May 31, 1952 in Mt. Vernon Illinois. The six foot two right hander attended Belmont University in Nashville Tennessee. He was the Mets second round draft pick in 1974 and went 7-4 with the AA Victoria Mets that season.

He was promoted to AAA Tidewater the next season going 9-9 behind Craig Swan, Randy Sterling & Bill Laxton. He would pitch at AAA Tidewater for four seasons winning nine games again in 1977 going 9-13.

He cracked the depleted Met bullpen in 1978, debuting on June 29th in relief against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. On July 30th he blew a save in Houston & took a loss to the Astros. In September he was 1-4 blowing a win & a hold opportunity. He went 1-4 in 1978 making 30 appearances with 26 strike outs & 27 walks in 48 innings with a 4.31 ERA. The next year was worse as he made 17 appearances, but had a 4.50 ERA in late May when he was sent to AAA Tidewater.

He returned in August going 0-3 with a 4.70 ERA in 30 appearances. He allowed 59 hits & 26 walks in just 44 innings pitched. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in the off season for pitcher Mark Bomback. Bernard toiled in the minors in 1980 then was a member of the Brewers 1982 AL Champion pennant team.

He made 47 appearances, with six holds going went 3-1 with a 3.76 ERA. He saved six games on days when Brewer ace reliever Rollie Fingers was resting. Bernard pitched four scoreless innings in the post season, including one inning of relief in Game #6 of the World Series’ against the St. Louis Cardinals. Bernard then pitched in the minors for three seasons, through 1985.

In his four year career he was 4-8 with six saves in 115 games. He struck out 92 batters walked 86 in 176 innings pitched. Bernard became a long time AAA pitching coaching, most recently with Tacoma.

May 29, 2016

2016 Mets Pitcher: Zack Wheeler (2013-2016)

Zachary Harrison Wheeler was born May 30th 1990, in Smyrna, Georgia. The six foot four left hander, attended East Paulding High School in Georgia. In his senior year he was 9-0, getting voted the Georgia Player of the Year by Baseball America.

In 2009 Wheeler was the San Francisco Giants number one pick, the sixth pick overall in that years draft. After a year in the South Atlantic League, he pitched at A Ball San Jose going 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA posting 98 strike outs in 88 innings, getting named to the All Star team. That July he was traded to the New York Mets in exchange for Carlos Beltran.

Wheeler came to the Mets as a highly touted prospect with lots of hope for the future. 

Wheeler closed out 2011 at A Ball St. Lucie where he went 2-2 with a 2.00 ERA. In 2012 he pitched at AA Binghamton (19 games) leading the club in wins (10) going 10-8 with 117 strike outs in 116 innings posting a 3.26 ERA, making another All Star team. He was moved up to AAA Buffalo (six games) where he went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA. 

Overall his 12 wins tied Gonzalez Germen for the most wins by a Mets farmhand. His 148 combined strike outs were best among Mets minor leaguers & he was 9th in the league in ERA (3.26).

In 2013 he entered the year as Baseball America's #13 prospect & was one of the most watched players at Mets Spring Training. He started out well but strained an oblique muscle while taking batting practice. The Mets wanted him to start in the minors despite the anticipation the fans & media had for him at the big league level.

Wheeler began the year at AAA Las Vegas with the 51's. In 13 games he was 4-2 with 73 strike outs & 27 walks in 68 innings. On June 18th, he got the much awaited big league debut, coming in the second game of a double header in his native Georgia, at Atlanta. Matt Harvey had gotten the start & the win in the first game. Everyone was saying that this was the Mets one & two pitchers of the future in a a winning era.

Wheeler After His First Career Win In Atlanta
Wheeler pitched six innings, allowing no runs on four hits while striking out seven, while walking five to earn his first career win, a 6-1 victory. 

His next start was in Chicago & the White Sox got him for four runs in 5.1 innings in a no decision. On June 30th he gave up five runs & took his first career loss coming against the Washington Nationals.

 July proved to be a good month for Wheeler, on July 5th he went five innings in Milwaukee allowing just one earned run in a 12-5 Mets win. On July 12th in San Francisco he beat the Giants 7-2, getting his record to 3-1, as he allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings. As the Braves came to Citi Field, Wheeler posted another victory, pitching six innings allowing just two runs. A

After a loss to Kansas City he posted three more victories in the month of August. On August 15th he struck out 12 Padres in San Diego over six innings but had no decisions in the 4-1 Mets win. He closed out September with two losses finishing up the year at 7-5 with 84 strike outs 46 walks & a 3.42 ERA in 100 innings pitched in 17 starts.

In 2014 the Mets lost Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery for the season, Wheelers' position on the staff was even more important. He began the year at 0-2, on April 14th in Arizona he got his first win pitching into the seventh inning, beating the D-backs 7-3.

It took over a month to gain another victory, even though he had had some good outings with no run support. On May 7th he shut out the Marlins in Miami over six innings but got no decision. June saw Wheeler fall to 2-7 before his best outing of the year came.

On June 19th he pitched his first complete game, a three hit eight strike out performance in Miami to beat the Marlins 1-0. That win put Wheeler in a good groove, after a loss to the Oakland A's, he went on to win his next six decisions through July until late August. 

In that time he pitched into the seventh inning, ten of thirteen starts. In five straight starts in July he never allowed more than one run.

In September he beat the Reds in Cincinnati & then shut out the Braves for six innings in Atlanta. He also took a loss to the Nationals in one of his worst outings where he allowed six earned runs. For 2014 he went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA, 187 strike outs (10th in the NL) & 79 walks (3rd most in the NL) in 185 innings pitched over 32 starts. His 9.081 strike outs per nine innings was 6th best in the league.

Wheeler with his girl friend
There was a lot of excitement going into the Mets 2015 season, particularly with their pitching staff. As Wheeler was penciled in for a top three spot in the rotation, along with Matt Harvey returning from Tommy John surgery & Jacob deGrom coming off his Rookie of the Year season. 

But in Spring Training Wheeler & the Mets got the bad news that he had a torn ulnar collateral ligament. On March 25, Wheeler underwent successful Tommy John surgery, performed by Dr. David Altchek to repair the torn UCL in his elbow. Wheeler missed the entire 2015 season. He was thrilled for his team mates & rooted them on as the went all the way to the World Series.

In July when rumors swirled that he was traded along with Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee he was very upset but completely thrilled when the deal didn't go thru. He was outspoken about it saying how glad he was to be a Met & anxious to join the club in 2016.

Wheeler is scheduled to join the Mets rotation in July, he began to throw softly again at Spring Training where he joined his pitching pals.

Quotes: Zack Wheeler-It's been tough, mental side and physical side, You have good days, bad days arm-wise, mostly good, but those bad days, they are there and you just have to keep in mind this is what it takes to get back on the field. Some days you don’t feel like going in that weight room, but you have to remind yourself where you want to be once you do get back up there.’’

When asked about pitching inside he told the NY Post this winter- “People have gotten away from that, people are getting soft these days. I don’t care, if somebody is showing me up or throwing at one of our guys, you are going to get something inside to let you know I noticed that.’’

One of the First New York Giants Star Players: Amos Rusie (1890-1898)

Amos Wilson Rusie was Born on May 30, 1871 in Mooresville, Indiana. The tall six foot one right handed fastball pitcher, was known as "The Hoosier Thunderbolt" & became one of the most dominant pitchers of the 1890’s. After one season at Indianapolis he came to the New York Giants in 1890.

In those days the distance between home plate & the pitcher’s mound was only 50 feet, & Rusie's fastball was frightening to batters. They were scared of the speed but even more so of his control issues. He would lead the league in walks five straight seasons & set the all time single season base on balls mark 1890 (290).

That season he also, led the league with 36 wild pitches. Rusie is seventh on the all time list with 1707 walks & 33rd with 153 wild pitches. In his first season with the Giants he won 29 games, but also led the league in losses with 34. He would win 30 games or more over the next four seasons, posting winning records every year.

To go along with his league leading walks, he also led the league in strikeouts five times, shut outs four times, starts twice, innings, games, games & finished all one time each. Rusie also won two ERA titles & was among the league's top five times.

It was said that catchers used to have to put a thin sheet of lead under a sponge in their mitts to take the sting away from his fastball. In 1893 he was 33-21 with a 3.23 ERA. He led the league in starts (52) games (56) complete games (50) innings (483) hits ( 451) walks (218) & strike outs (208). That same year tragedy struck as one of Rusie’s fast balls hit Louisville's future Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings in the head.

The blow put him in a coma, taking him four days to recover from the fastball. This led to baseball changing the distance from home to the pitcher's mound from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches. This change didn’t hurt Rusies’s effectiveness, in fact he came back to win the Pitchers Triple Crown in 1894. He was 36-13 with 195 strike outs & a 2.78 ERA. He also led the league in starts (50) shut outs (3) walks (200) & strike outs (195).

He became a popular figure in New York & was one of the first baseball stars in the city. He was known as "Mr. Giant" & "Colossus of Coogans Bluff". The famed vaudeville act of Weber and Fields used his name in their show, & famed Broadway actor DeWolf Hopper proudly called him a personal friend.

He even received a message of congratulations from the popular 1890’s sex symbol/ performer Lillian Russell. Russell was a Broadway star as well as one of the foremost singers of operettas in America. It was her voice that was first heard when Alexander Grahm Bell first introduced long distance telephone service as she sang to audiences in Boston & Washington D.C. from New York.  Russell also starred in burlesque, vaudville & early motion pictures. In her later years she wrote a column for womens suffrage & was a popular lecturer. A movie of her life was made in 1940 starring Alice Faye, Henry Fonda & Don Ameche.

Back to Rusie, a 25 cent paperback book was also written about him; "The Secrets of Amos Rusie, The World's Greatest Pitcher". In Manhattan Bars & Restaurants named drinks after him, as did bars  around the Polo Grounds ballpark. Rusie was one of the first celebrity athletes in New York City by far.

After a bitter contract dispute with Giants' owner Andrew Freedman, Rusie publicly gave the thumbing of his nose to Freedman, which was equal to today's version of giving someone the middle finger. He was fined $200 (he made only $2,500 a year) & held out for the entire 1896 season. It was terrible for baseball, the fans boycotted the game and the press railed against the owners.

A settlement was reached just before the 1897 season, out of respect for Rusie & fear of legal action against the reserve clause. In 1898 he was hit in the head with a line drive & suffered hearing damage from the after effects. He soon suffered arm trouble, as well as personal problems getting traded to the Cincinnati Reds for the great pitcher to be; Christy Mathewson. After just three games with the Reds his career ended.

Lifetime in ten seasons he won 246 games (49th best all time) lost 174 with a 3.07 ERA (185th all time) 1950 strikeouts (77th all time) 1707 walks (7th all time) & 30 shutouts (110th all time) 393 complete games (18th all time) 427 starts (94th all time) & 153 wild pitches (33rd all time).

Retirement: Afetr his playing days he & his wife moved to Seattle. It was tough for him to earn aliving there & when New York Giants manager John McGraw learned of his troubles offered him a job as a special officer at the Polo Grounds. Rusie accepted & was once again a celebrity in New York, he said "It was like climbing out of your grave & going to a dance". He stayed in that job for eight years before buying a chicken ranch back in Seattle.

Rusie was injured in a car accident & never fully recovered. He passed away in 1942 at the age of 71 in Seattle, Washington. Amos Rusie was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.