Jacob deGrom versus a red-hot, newly-acquired, long-time Met rival Cole Hamels is a pretty juicy matchup. It’s too bad one of these teams is competently run and has maintained its status as a National League powerhouse since ascending in 2015 while the other has crashed and burned in spectacular fashion. So it goes.
Brandon Nimmo is back off the DL and in the lineup. Jeff McNeil is also out there, and Jay Bruce is starting at first.
If you watched the top of the first inning, you got a pretty good idea of what the Mets offense was going to do in this game. Amed Rosario led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout, and an Austin Jackson walk put runners at the corners with one out. The prime scoring chance was squandered, as both Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier struck out swinging to get Cole Hamels out of the first inning unharmed.
It was the first of what seemed like an endless number of missed opportunities for the Mets, who put three more runners on in the third with a single, error and a walk, but a caught stealing and another strikeout by Conforto ended the threat. Two singles, one a hussle infield single from deGrom, along with a walk loaded the bases in the fifth, but Conforto struck out once again. Consistently, Hamels put runners on base for the Mets, and every time they were wasted.
Of course, this is par for the course with deGrom, and the most deserving Cy Young candidate did his part to keep his team in the game. Over the first five innings, deGrom was brilliant, striking out seven and holding a potent Cubs offense off the board. There was a scary moment in the fourth when deGrom seemed to tweak something after slipping while trying to field an infield dribbler off the bat of Javier Baez, but he showed no ill effects, escaping the inning and promptly beating out the aforementioned infield single in his next at bat.
Sick of his teammates failing him, deGrom took offensive matters into his own hands in the top of the sixth. Former National Brandon Kintzler replaced Cole Hamels, and the first two Mets reached on an infield single and a walk. The next two batters couldn’t push a run across, and a walk to Brandon Nimmo loaded the bases for deGrom with two out. deGrom came through, as he always seems to, placing a groundball perfectly on the left side of the infield for his second hit of the day and his fourth RBI of the year, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
After navigating an leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth, the Mets had a chance to add some insurance in the seventh after McNeil led off with a triple. Predictably, they failed to do even that, with two hard line outs and a strike out stranding McNeil at third. The Cubs immediately made the Mets pay for their failure, rallying with two singles and a sacrifice fly to tie the game at one in the bottom of the seventh. The run should arguably have been unearned, as Bruce missed a relatively routine play at first base to give the Cubs their second hit of the game, but so it goes for deGrom.
A visibly pissed off deGrom worked around a leadoff single and a walk in the bottom of the eighth, finishing his outing with a strikeout and a double play. The Mets then failed to score for him in the top of the ninth, dooming the best pitcher in baseball to yet another no decision. Some quick stats on deGrom’s season after this latest gem, an eight-inning, 10-strikeout, one-walk, one-run performance:
- 24th consecutive start with three or fewer runs, tying Doc Gooden’s major league record
- 6th start allowing one run or less in which deGrom has received a no decision
- 9th time the Met offense has scored one run or less with deGrom on the mound
- 8th time deGom has gone seven or more innings and allowed one or zero runs but did not earn a win, tying a live-ball era record by Roger Craig on the 1963 Mets
Seth Lugo replaced deGrom and tossed a scoreless ninth, sending the game to extra innings. Mother Earth had other plans, and after Steve Cishek threw two balls to Conforto, the game was suspended. Thirteen hours later, the at-bat resumed, and Conforto worked a leadoff walk. He was erased on a double play when Bruce struck out two batters later, and Nimmo was doubled off on a line drive to waste another potential baserunner in the 11th, continuing the Mets’ absolute refusal to score runs for deGrom, even with the ace out of the game.
Mercifully, the Cubs ended things in the 11th before the Met offense could embarrass themselves any further. Paul Sewald continued to be bad, walking Javier Baez to lead off the inning, then throwing the ball away on a bunt to put runner son second and third with no outs. Kyle Schwarber was intentionally walked, Sewald struck out Albert Almora, and Daniel Zamora entered to face Ben Zobrist. Zamora got the ground ball he needed, but Zobrist placed it perfectly up the middle, and Rosario couldn’t get to it. The Cubs walked off with a 2-1 victory.
Thoughts from the Game
Watching pissed off deGrom’s body language on the mound is always fun, because it’s so clear he’s tired of everyone’s bullshit. At this point, he literally cannot carry this team any more than he already is, and it has to be beyond frustrating to see the team still fail so miserably. More relevantly at this point, if there is any writer or analyst who professes to be a baseball expert and doesn’t vote for deGrom in the Cy Young because of pitcher wins, that should be grounds for immediate firing. He’s the best pitcher in the National League, and it isn’t particularly close.
Other Mets News
There are two infuriating bits of Met news to discuss, so let’s start with the more common one. The Mets say they will not call up Peter Alonso this season, despite him racking up 33 home runs and 111 RBI this season between Double-A and Triple-A. Supposedly, this is because the Mets are still concerned about his defense and limited playing time with Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores and Dominic Smith on the roster. That’s nonsense, of course — all of those options are somewhere between terrible and mediocre, and none of them are particularly good defenders. This is a very obvious service time manipulation ploy, a ridiculous tactic to claw back the age-31 season of a R/R first baseman in a totally lost season.
At least that’s a wrong the rest of baseball commits as well, however. The other bit of Mets news could originate only from an organization as deeply defined by dysfunction an ineptitude as this one; the Mets want insurance to continue to pay David Wright’s salary. As a refresher, the Mets get 75% of Wright’s salary back in insurance while he’s on the disabled list. Of course, they don’t reinvest this money, counting Wright’s full salary AND the premium on the insurance against club payroll. If Wright is activated and later needs to go back on the DL, the team does not receive payments until 60 days after the DL stint begins (likely combined between 2018 and 2019), and they can save roughly $2.4 million of Wright’s $3.2 million due over the rest of the season by keeping him on the disabled list.
This latest news takes things to a whole new level of scummy, deplorable and disgusting, even for the Mets. Wright is the greatest Met position player in history. He stuck with this team through some dark years, toiling away in his prime on teams that couldn’t even crack .500. He’s now spent two years working his hardest to overcome a debilitating, chronic back injury, one that has spawned shoulder and neck problems to boot. And now that he finally, finally has a chance to step onto a major league field for the first time since 2016, the team seems to be angling to classify him as permanently disabled against his wishes.
For full disclosure, I’ve never been as much of a fan of Wright as some others. Jose Reyes was always my favorite player when I was little (which has aged….not well), and I thought he should have been shipped out when the Mets started their rebuild. Nevertheless, Wright was on track for a first-ballot HOF career, and I struggle to find words to describe the depths the Mets have sunk to here. Disrespectful, abjectly cruel and disgraceful come to mind.
Photo credit: Patrick Gorski – USA Today Sports