The Mets weren’t able to accomplish a whole lot offensively against the Rangers in Saturday’s spring finale against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. They had been held scoreless through eight innings and entered the top of the ninth down 4-0.
Rangers pitcher Andrew Faulkner got two quick, easy outs. But the Mets weren’t quite ready to face the regular season. Johnny Monell walked, John Mayberry singled, and Matt Reynolds walked to load the bases. Jesus Pirela came out of the bullpen to replace Faulkner. With a 1-1 count on back-up catcher Anthony Recker, Pirela threw a 96 MPH fastball about letters-high, which Recker promptly deposited over the fence in left-center for a game-tying grand slam.
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The threat wasn’t over after the salami, as Pirela walked Danny Muno, uncorked a wild pitch, and walked Darrell Ceciliani before getting Alex Castellanos to fly out to left field to end the inning mercifully. Mets pitcher Zach Thornton worked around a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth for a scoreless inning and the two teams settled on a 4-4 tie.
Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.
Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”
Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.
The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.