Wheeler sharp, bullpen also impresses as Mets fall
Righty allows one Marlins run over 4 2/3; Rice's spring ERA at 0.00
JUPITER, Fla. -- Power pitching dominated Friday night's Grapefruit League game at Roger Dean Stadium.
It took some power hitting to deliver the decisive blow.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia's second-inning home run lifted the Marlins to a 1-0 win over the Mets in the first night game of spring for both clubs.
Tom Koehler continued to make his claim to win the Marlins' fifth-starter spot by tossing five shutout innings, striking out five.
Zack Wheeler, lined up to be the Mets' No. 4 starter, allowed Saltalamacchia's homer but not much else in 4 2/3 innings of one-run work. Wheeler allowed three total hits, walking one and striking out two.
Both starters has their fastballs clocked as high as 96 mph.
Saltalamacchia led off the second inning with his second home run of the spring. Koehler and the rest of the Miami staff made the lone run stand.
Saltalamacchia's homer capped a seven-pitch showdown, and it came with the count full.
The Mets threatened off Koehler in the third inning. Danny Muno walked with one out, and went to second on Ruben Tejada's single to center. The chance for a big inning was thwarted when Koehler struck out Matt den Dekker with a slider and Chris Young on a curveball.
"Any time you get a lead, you want to put a shutdown inning up," Koehler said. "That inning right there was an example of where that inning might have got away. It's about staying focused and continuing to execute pitches like you had when you had nobody on, or with no lead."
Wheeler was backed by two double plays in his first three innings. And in the fourth inning, the right-hander struck out Rob Brantly and Casey McGehee looking, as Saltalamacchia was stranded at first after delivering a single.
Miami reliever Henry Rodriguez threw two shutout innings, striking out three.
"We knew coming in we saw Koehler and Henry Rodriguez on there, and [Chris] Hatcher at the end, and then we had [Jeurys] Familia and Valverde and Wheeler, we knew there was going to be some velocity tonight," Mets acting manager Bob Geren said. "We had a feeling it might be a low-scoring game coming in, and unfortunately, we were on the low end of it. There were some impressive big arms tonight for both teams."
New York's Jose Valverde threw 1 1/3 innings with one strikeout.
Up next: Veteran righty Bartolo Colon starts against the Cubs at 4:05 p.m. ET in Las Vegas as part of the Big League Weekend series, while righty Dillon Gee toes the rubber in Port St. Lucie as the Mets host the Twins at 1:10 p.m. Colon allowed three runs on five hits over four innings in his lone start. Gee, who tossed four scoreless frames in a "B" game on Monday, gave up a run on four hits in 2 1/3 innings in his only Grapefruit League outing.