For a pitcher with little buzz, Dillon Gee has transformed into a top starter.
He nearly came away with his first professional shutout Sunday, limiting the Miami Marlins to three singles over eight innings in the New York Mets' 4-0 victory.
"I'm not sure if Dillon is all that sexy of a pitcher," Mets captain David Wright said. "He just goes out there and gets the job done."
Gee never topped 90 mph against the Marlins. Still, he didn't allow a runner past second base.
"He's not going to impress you with the radar gun. He's not going to strike a lot of guys out," Wright said. "But what he's going to do is induce a lot of ground balls, pound the strike zone. And he's going to go out there and know how to pitch."
Chris Young hit a two-run homer, and Wright had an RBI double and an outstanding sliding, over-the-shoulder catch of a foul popup with his back to the plate as the Mets took two of three in the series.
Pitching a day before his 28th birthday, Gee (2-1) had the longest outing of a Mets pitcher since last August. He struck out six, walked four and threw 110 pitches — his high since May 30, 2012, against Philadelphia. That was six weeks before season-ending surgery to repair a damaged artery in his right shoulder.
He tried to talk Mets manager Terry Collins into letting him get a complete game. Gee has just four in 162 pro starts over eight years.
"CG chances don't come along that often. It would have been nice," Gee said.
Collins wasn't taking any chances, especially after Gee needed 23 pitches to navigate a 1-2-3 eighth. Coming in, batters were hitting .187 off Gee through the first six innings and .385 from the seventh on.
"The one thing I didn't want to have happen is fourth time through the lineup, to have him hang a slider with a 113th pitch and have something go into the seats," Collins said.
Gee is 12-6 with a 2.75 ERA since last May 30. That's the eighth-best ERA in the major leagues, according to STATS, just ahead of Adam Wainwright and Madison Bumgarner.
"Probably pretty under the radar, like I think a lot of players in this room," Wright said. "We don't necessarily have a lineup full or a pitching rotation full of household names."
Carlos Torres followed with a perfect ninth that finished a three-hitter. The Marlins felt flummoxed by Gee, who is 3-0 in five starts against them
"He's got a good sinker. He uses a cutter, curveball. He's always got that changeup," Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.
Tom Koehler (2-2), who was born in Bronx and grew up in New Rochelle, allowed four runs, five hits and four walks in five innings.
New York went ahead in the second when Daniel Murphy walked, Young was hit by a pitch and Lucas Duda looped a ground-rule double down the left-field line that landed about a foot fair and bounced into the seats.
Curtis Granderson walked leading off the three-run fifth and came home when Wright doubled to the base of the left-field wall, only his third extra-base hit since an opening day home run.
After Murphy grounded out, Young had four straight fouls before sending a hanging slider into the left-field seats on the 11th pitch of his at-bat and the 22nd pitch to him from Koehler on the afternoon.
"I kind of saw everything he had, and I think the advantage leans a little more toward my way," Young said.
There was some superb glovework: Murphy made a barehand pickup of a three-hopper on the shortstop side of second to throw out Marcell Ozuna in the first; and Wright made the glamorous grab on Casey McGehee's fourth-inning foul pop about 70 feet beyond third base.
"It's kind of a panic slide because you don't want to go barreling into that tarp," Wright said.
New York completed a 6-4 homestand, leaving its record at 14-11.
"It's impossible to beat your chest and kind of walk with a little pep in your step when you're not winning," Wright said. "You start taking care of business at home, you kind of gain that confidence and I think that that kind of shows on the field."