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RHP Zack Wheeler admitted when he came to bat in the sixth inning against San Francisco Giants LHP Mike Kickham on Wednesday, he was afraid he might laugh. That's how relaxed he'd become over what he anticipated would be a nerve-racking experience. Wheeler doubled off his former minor-league teammate, driving in the Mets' sixth run in what turned out to be a 7-1 win. Of course, what Wheeler felt best about Wednesday was his pitching. Going up against a team that drafted him with the No. 6 overall pick in 2009 and traded him for immediate help (OF Carlos Beltran) two years later, Wheeler demonstrated why he was so highly regarded in the Giants' farm system. The Mets see him eventually a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, and according to manager Terry Collins, that's exactly what he looked like Wednesday.
C Anthony Recker sat out Wednesday's 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. That's too bad, because the Mets' backup catcher tends to get involved in interesting stuff. Of course, what he likes to do most is hit home runs. He's batting just .167 this season, but five of his 12 hits have been homers. He added to that total in Tuesday's 10-6 win over the Giants. Recker, who pitched an inning earlier this season in a blowout loss to the Washington Nationals, had more to talk about after Tuesday's win than merely hitting another home run. He got to relive his glory days as a linebacker/tight end at Catasauqua High in Pennsylvania. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder successfully blocked the plate on the Giants' Marco Scutaro in the first inning, prompting the diminutive Giant to go into his quarterback mode and shy away from the contact at the last minute. Scutaro got flattened anyway. Asked after the game to identify his best position in prep football, the versatile Recker provided an unusual answer. "Punter," he said. "I was a real good punter."
RHP Jeremy Hefner is available to start Tuesday's All-Star Game should teammate RHP Matt Harvey be unavailable to go. OK, the National League isn't about to invite a guy with a 4-6 record and 3.39 ERA. But if recent form were the sole consideration, you could make a case for Hafner getting the assignment ahead of Harvey. Heck, ahead of anybody in the NL. Hafner is on a big-time roll, having gone 3-1 in his last seven starts, striking out 37 and walking just eight in the process. His ERA over that stretch is a major league-best 1.64. In Friday's series opener at Pittsburgh, Hafner has a chance to improve on those numbers. He's faced the Pirates just once in his career -- last September -- and shut them out for seven innings in a 6-0 win.
C John Buck was one of the hitting stars for the Mets in their 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. For a change, the catcher didn't do his damage with the long ball. Buck belted a double to the center field fence and scored in the sixth inning, but his biggest blow was a blooper to right-center field that fell, produced two runs and ended Matt Cain's day two outs into the first inning. The two RBIs gave Buck 46 for the season -- three more than All-Star teammate David Wright -- and added to an amazing transformation in the New York lineup. A year ago, Mets catchers had the fewest home runs in the majors (five) and the second-fewest RBIs (48). This year, just past the midpoint, Buck and C Anthony Recker, who homered in Tuesday's win, lead the majors with 19 home runs and 59 RBIs.
RF Marlon Byrd wasn't with the Mets when they hit four grand slams in all of the 2012 season. This year, the team has four and we're not even at the All-Star break yet. The Mets currently are tied for the major-league lead in grand slams. It is just coincidental this is happening immediately following the signing of Byrd in the off-season? Don't believe it. The 35-year-old ranks among the big boys with seven career grand slams, the most recent of which provided the difference-making runs in Tuesday's 10-6 win over the San Francisco Giants. Byrd added a two-run shot off San Francisco Giants reliever LHP Mike Kickham on Wednesday, his 15th of the season. He now has 49 RBIs, his most ever in the first half of a season. To what does Byrd attribute this resurgence of power? The presence of David Wright in the lineup ahead of him, of course. With the All-Star on base so often (his on-base percentage was .403 entering Wednesday's game), Byrd knows pitchers have to throw him strikes. That surely was the case Tuesday, when Byrd crushed rookie Jake Dunning's first pitch of the night for the grand slam.