Jacob deGrom has been dominant his last three times out, going 25 innings with an ERA under one. Against the worst team in baseball, he had a great chance to continue that success as the Phillies came into town for a three-game set, starting with Ben Lively, owner of a 3.90 ERA but an incredibly, unbelievably low 3.60 K/9 rate. For the Mets, that matchup is a huge opportunity to continue their recent success (five wins in their last six games)
The Mets quickly got to work against Lively, with Curtis Granderson walking and Asdrubal Cabera grounding a single to start the bottom of the first. Jay Bruce walked to load the bases after a fly out from Yoenis Cespedes, but Wilmer Flores grounded weakly into a double play on the first pitch he saw in the first threat. The Mets threatened again in the bottom of the second, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Once again, however, they grounded into a double play, this time off the bat of Travis d’Arnaud.
Thankfully, deGrom worked a walk and Granderson had an infield single to score the first run of the game. Nevertheless, the Mets squandered a ton of baserunners. Lively put the Mets down in order in the bottom of the third, but New York got back on him in the fourth, when Jose Reyes tripled and scored on an RBI single from d’Arnaud to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
deGrom, meanwhile, was dealing. In the first four innings, he did not allow a hit, walked only one, and struck out six. It was the first time this season a Met starter has held the opposition hitless through four innings. Unfortunately, his defense would fail him; with two outs in the fifth, Andrew Knapp hit a high fly ball to center field. It should have been playable, but Granderson lost it in the lights, giving the Phillies their first hit. One batter later, Ty Kelly singled to left to drive in the Phillies’s first run. deGrom escaped the inning with a 2-1 lead intact, but was clearly frustrated, smashing some water cups as he made his way to the bench.
At this point, Lively had settled into a nice groove. Despite tossing more than 40 pitches in the first two innings, he made it through six innings, setting down the final seven Mets who came to the plate. deGrom finished strong as well, striking out the side in the sixth and punctuating his outing with a strikeout to end the top of the seventh. He finished with 12 strikeouts, one walk, and three hits, allowing only one run over his seven innings of work.
Jerry Blevins entered for the top of the eighth and continued to look a bit shaky, allowing a one-out double to Cameron Perkins that put the tying run in scoring position. He got the next batter to ground out, but was then replaced by Paul Sewald. Sewald, appearing for the first time since his three-inning stint in Miami earlier this week when Robert Gsellman went down with a hamstring injury, made quick work of Freddy Galvis preserve the Met lead.
Addison Reed came on for the save in the top of the ninth and had a breezy inning. He induced a pop out and two ground outs, all to Asdrubal Cabrera,, throwing only seven pitches to retire the 3-4-5 hitters of the Phillies order and notch his 13th save of the year. The win brings the Mets back to a mere five games under .500 at 37-42, still well out of any reasonable playoff hopes.
Thoughts from the Game
When Jacob deGrom is on, he’s truly one of the most entertaining pitchers in baseball. Few starters can emulate the arm side action he gets on his fastball up in the zone, and he used it to devastating effect last night, prompting even a cynic like me to hope for a no-hitter. At the same time, I’m almost glad Curtis Granderson misplayed that ball in centerfield. Pushing Jacob deGrom to 150 pitches (he had a high pitch count due to his many strikeouts) to finish off a no-hitter in a lost season just doesn’t seem worth it. As is, Terry Collins using deGrom in the seventh inning against a terrible Phillies team was a questionable decision, evidenced by deGrom’s drop in control and velocity. Really nothing new here, but that doesn’t make the abuse of the few good arms the Mets have left any less frustrating.
Elsewhere, Wilmer Flores continues to look utterly lost. After seemingly improving against right-handed pitching earlier this season, he’s back to flailing at junk away and falling over the plate. With David Wright’s career realistically over, the Mets probably need to look for a more reliable option at the hot corner for next season, because Flores’s bad defense and mediocre hitting don’t make him a realistic option for a contender.
Other Met News
Michael Conforto still can’t swing a bat, and it’s been too long for the Mets to retroactively DL him. Every other team in the league seems to know how to use the 10-day DL, but the Mets can’t quite grasp the concept. Really nothing more to add there, I just hope they don’t push Conforto through an injury that dampens his production and possibly leads to longer term complications.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports