After being snubbed for the All-Star Game, Jacob deGrom got the first start for the Mets out of the break, squaring off against the second Wild Card team Rockies. Jon Gray, the Rockies’ opening day starter who missed significant time with a stress fracture in his foot, made his sixth start. Perhaps most importantly, Michael Conforto got the start in center field, hopefully indicating that the Mets plan to play him every day down the stretch.
deGrom got off to a somewhat rough start, allowing a leadoff single to Charlie Blackmon. Two batters later, Nolan Arenado hit a weak ground ball that deGrom threw past first base for an error, putting runners on first and third with one out. Gerardo Parra then drove in the first run of the game with a ground ball single, giving the Rockies a one-run lead. That’s all they’d get for the inning and almost all they’d get for the entire evening against deGrom.
The Mets went quietly in the first, but got to work in the bottom of the second against Jon Gray. Lucas Duda started the inning with a bloop single to left, moving to third on a double from Jose Reyes. Travis d’Arnaud then hit a weak ground ball that Nolan Arenado made a fantastic play on to record the out, but Duda scored to tie the game. One batter later, deGrom had a bloop hit of his own to score Reyes and give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Conforto singled to keep the inning going before Asdrubal Cabrera grounded into a double play to end the inning, but the Mets were far from finished with Gray.
Yoenis Cespedes started the bottom of the third with a hustle double that he dinked down the right field line. Jay Bruce followed with his own bloop single to left, putting runners on first and third with nobody out. T.J. Rivera then smashed a double into the gap to score two runs, extending the Mets lead to 4-1. Duda kept the chain moving by walking, and Reyes drove in the Met’s fifth run with a single. d’Arnaud walked as well to load the bases, still with no outs.
That’d be all for Gray, who couldn’t even record an out in the second. He was certainly victimized by some bad luck – four of the Mets’ hits against him were poorly hit – but his stuff was clearly rusty after going nine days between outings, and the Mets were hitting rockets off of him by the time he departed.
Gray was relieved by Zac Rosscup, who struck out deGrom for the first out of the third. Conforto hit a chopper for an RBI fielder’s choice, and Cabrera bounced a ground ball of the second base bag for an RBI single, scoring the fifth and sixth Met runs of the inning, pushing them to an 8-1 lead. Cespedes added his second hit of the inning with a hard hit single before Bruce struck out to finally end the third.
T.J. Rivera added a solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth, but the Mets already had more than enough cushion for deGrom, who straight-up dominated for the rest of the night. Outside of a double from Charlie Blackmon in the sixth (he’d later score on a sacrifice fly from Gerardo Parra), deGrom held the Rockies hitless from the second until the eighth. He struck out 11 on the night, his seventh game with double digit strikeouts this season, earning a win in his sixth straight start and his tenth win on the season. He finished after eight innings, allowing four hits, one walk, and two runs.
The Mets tacked on a couple more runs after deGrom departed on a bases loaded walk to Cabrera and an infield single by Cespedes. Josh Edgin entered to close out the 12-run game and made things drag, allowing two singles and a walk, but ultimately held off the Rockies to secure the 14-2 win. The victory pulls the Mets within 9.5 of the second wild card spot, perhaps the first step of playing, as Sandy Alderson put it, “exceedingly well” as they try to save their season (don’t count on it).
Thoughts from the Game
Please don’t trade Jacob deGrom unless the return is absolutely, stupendously good. I’m talking Alex Bregman, Francis Martes, and Kyle Tucker from the Astros, which A) will never happen and B) I’m not sure even excites me without getting a long term center field solution or an equivalently useful piece. Even if deGrom’s an unlikely extension candidate as he’s under control until age 32, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball and can be a valuable contributor for what should be contending Met teams in 2018 and 2019. On a more emotional level, he’s just a joy to watch when he’s on, both due to his electric stuff and due to his fun, underdog story.
Other Met News
For once, the news on the injury front can almost be considered good. Jeurys Familia has started a throwing program, while both Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard are close to being cleared. Given that all three have missed extended time with a serious injuries, they’ll certainly need some time to work their way back. More relevantly for potential trades, Neil Walker is 7-10 days away, hopefully putting him on track to return before the non-waiver trade deadline. Walker’s salary is hefty enough that he can probably be traded through waivers in August, so the longer he has to display that he is healthy the better.
At the same press conference where Alderson delivered this injury news, he also reinforced that Amed Rosario (and Dom Smith) will not be up any time soon. Specifically, Alderson said that he would not promote any top prospects until the players they would be replacing were moved. Given Terry Collins’ predilection for playing veterans over rookies, that’s probably a smart developmental decision.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports