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Game recap July 24: Jeff McNeil, welcome to the circus

The Mets!
On Tuesday, Zack Wheeler was effective once again. Maybe it’s motivation to make it onto a competitor, maybe he is actually good. Whatever the case may be, Wheeler is putting on quite the audition for contending teams targeting the Mets most-likely-to-be-traded starting pitcher. Much like his final pre-All-Star game start against the Washington Nationals, there was just one problem inning.
After a Manuel Margot single, which put runners at the corners with two-outs in the third, Wheeler walked Carlos Asuaje to load the bases. This was followed by a single by Wil Myers, which carried more baggage than a normal RBI single. For starters, a nice throw home by Michael Conforto resulted in an out call from the home plate umpire against Margot. The initial call, which nabbed at home the runner starting at second base, was quickly followed by a throw from Devin Mesoraco to third. This throw would result in a tag of Asuaje, who had clearly stopped running once he saw the initial out-call at home. So, using Math, that’s something like a four-out inning. Well…not so much. Here’s where it gets interesting.
The Padres challenged the play at the plate and won the run, yet the replay official ruled Asuaje out. It was quite a weird ruling, to say the least, considering Asuaje very abruptly changed speeds once he saw the out call at home. As one might assume, MLB’s statement on the matter says that Asuaje was “unaffected by the incorrect call.” And, to be fair, the rule reads that this type of play is left up to the entirely subjective decision of the replay official. Overall, it was just a weird play.
Though I’ll be the first to admit my opinion that they got the call wrong, there is no doubt that it helped Wheeler. In the short-term, it prevented him from having to work out of a jam with runners at the corners and two outs, in a game which favored the Mets 3-2. As for his outing beyond this point, Wheeler would finish by setting down the next 12 consecutive batters. Wheeler finished with an impressive overall line of seven innings, four hits, one walk, two earned runs and three strikeouts. It’s a great outing even when one ignores that his one walk, two earned runs, and three of the four hits he surrendered came in the third inning.
There’s no denying the role played by the call to end the third inning. Maybe Wheeler gets Hosmer out harmlessly and everything stays the same, maybe he doesn’t. We’ll never truly know anything concrete, with the exception that the call itself was pivotal. What do we know as concrete fact? Wheeler was very good on Tuesday, and he has certainly become one of the more interesting deadline candidates on the trade market.
The title should explain everything. Following his contribution on Tuesday, Michael Conforto is 7-14 with two homers to kick off the pseudo second half. Now, I know you might say, “But Shawn, that’s only 14 ABs!,” to which I will respond: shut up, nerd.
Just let me have this one thing. This one glimmer of hope amidst a dark and scary season where only, like, Brandon Nimmo can hit AND be on the Mets active roster come September. With almost no historical reasoning to believe it will work out, I choose to believe in the eventuality of a Conforto-Nimmo-Yoenis Cespedes outfield. Now to just walk through this field of rakes which, oddly enough, I keep stepping on.
One weird play, one great outing (with the potential to be the final one in a Mets uniform), one clear and unquestionable resurgence, and one very important plate appearance. We’ve covered all the important ones, but Jeff McNeil finally got the call-up on Tuesday! The 26-year old has been tearing it up in the minors this season thanks, in large part, to good health. Though it is Las Vegas, so the usual warnings apply, McNeil reaches the majors after posting a .368/.427/.600 slash in 143 Triple-A plate appearances. It didn’t take long for McNeil to record his first Major League hit, either. In the bottom of the eighth, and on the first pitch he saw, McNeil lined a ball back up the middle. Though it was his first, it surely won’t be his last.
The Mets are sending Corey Oswalt to face Clayton Richard in what is likely the most predictable MLB.TV Free Game of the Day in history.
The prospects of a potential win today? Oh, they are nice. Since the Mets won game two, they now have the rare chance to win a series. Having split series with the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, and New York Yankees (thanks to a rainout), the Mets haven’t lost a series since the weekend of July 6. On the flip side, the Mets’ last series win came in a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks on the weekend of May 18. In the presence of a two-month drought, it is long overdue.

Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports

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