How Jacob deGrom has managed to keep a remotely upbeat attitude over these past few months is nothing short of astonishing.
Friday night’s game against Atlanta represented the Mets’ latest chance to play spoiler in a division race that they themselves have long been out of, and despite yet another gem from their ace, New York continued to struggle to score runs for deGrom.
The contest went the way so many of deGrom’s 2018 starts have unfolded. After an uneventful first inning on both sides, deGrom quickly retired the first two Braves in the 2nd before one swing from Johan Camargo sent a bolt through the stadium. The Braves’ third baseman turned on a deGrom offering and deposited it off the facing of the upper deck in right field, giving the road team an early 1-0 advantage.
That score held into the third, where the Mets’ bats were able to answer. Amed Rosario led off the frame with a double down the right field line, and the young shortstop scored the tying run two batters later, when deGrom took matters into his own hands and grounded an RBI single right back up the middle.
Despite walking Freddie Freeman and allowing a single to Nick Markakis to start the fourth, deGrom quickly retired the next three to escape that threat and keep the game tied, but he wasn’t as fortunate an inning later. After striking out the first two in the fifth, Atlanta’s fabulous young duo of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies both doubled, giving the Braves a lead they would ultimately never relinquish.
New York got runners via walks in both the sixth and seventh innings but neither was parlayed into a serious threat, while on the mound deGrom just kept hurling zeroes, retiring the final 10 Braves he faced following the Albies RBI double. The right hander’s night came to an end after eight, when the Mets pinch hit for him. After Anthony Swarzak hurled a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, New York needed to score in their final at-bat to extend the ballgame.
A.J. Minter entered for the Braves after successfully recording the save in the serious opener on Thursday, and while the Mets were able to generate a two-out runner when Camargo booted a Todd Frazier ground ball, Austin Jackson immediately followed with a game-ending ground ball right at Freeman at first base.
Almost incomprehensibly, while deGrom has now gone at least eight innings in five of his last nine starts, hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a game since his second start of the year, and continues to boast the best ERA in baseball; he hasn’t won since June 18.
The Mets will try to bounce back and deal their division rivals’ playoff aspirations at least a little bit of a blow behind Zack Wheeler tonight, making his first start since not being traded at the deadline.
Photo credit: Adam Hunger – USA Today Sports