Sunday, August 7, 2022

Jacob deGrom Makes His Near-Perfect Return To Citi Field

Jacob deGrom's first pitch of the game was hit to right field for a fly out by Dansby Swanson. Photo by Jason Schott.

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom had to wait 396 days since his last start at Citi Field, on July 7, 2021, to take the mound at his home park again, and because of a torrential rain storm about an hour and a half before the game, 20 minutes more.

When deGrom threw the first pitch of the game at 4:30, the roar started to build, and it grew more as Dansby Swanson hit to right field for the first out. It then grew as deGrom struck out the next hitter, Matt Olson, and then a deafening roar when he struck out Austin Riley to end the inning.

This was the culmination of an anticipated return for the two-time Cy Young Award winner that has lasted all season, after he suffered an injury a week before the season opened and didn't throw a pitch in any game until his first rehab start on July 4 in Port St. Lucie. It wasn't until August 2 that he would be back on mound, as he started against the Nationals in Washington, allowing just one run on three hits and no walks, with six strikeouts, as he got a no-decision in a game the Mets went on to lose 5-1, just one of two losses they have had in their prior 13 games entering Sunday. 

The Mets tried to get deGrom a lead in the bottom of the first against Atlanta's starter Spencer Strider, as they had two runners on and one out for Pete Alonso, who struck out, and then Daniel Vogelbach worked the count to 3-0, but he also struck out swinging.

In the second, deGrom picked up where he left off, striking out Eddie Rosario and William Contreras swinging to give him four strikeouts in a row. Robbie Grossman then lined one to shortstop Francisco Lindor, positioned to the right side of second base in the shift, to end the inning. Grossman was a late addition to the lineup for Ronald Acuna, Jr., who was lifted as a precaution after the rain saturated the field.

The shadows really took over in the second inning, around 5 p.m. Here's deGrom pitching to Eddie Rosario. Photo by Jason Schott.

Marcell Ozuna led off the third with a fly out to right field, and then Michael Harris II tried to check his swing on a pitch down an in, but he couldn't, so it was another K for deGrom, who then struck out Ehire Adrianza on three pitches. That made it nine up, nine down, with six strikeouts, for deGrom through three innings. 

Brandon Nimmo led off the bottom of the third with a single, and then with one out, Francisco Lindor hit one down the left field line that landed just inside the line, and Nimmo, knowing nobody could make a play on the ball if it landed fair, raced to third base.

Alonso then hit a rocket down the third base line that bounced off the bag and into the air, and Nimmo and Lindor both scored on what turned into a double for Alonso to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. That brought Alonso's RBI total to 97, which leads the Major Leagues.

Daniel Vogelbach walked, and then after Jeff McNeil flew out to center field, Mark Canha laced one up the right-center field gap for a double to bring in both Alonso and Vogelbach and open up a 4-0 lead for the Mets.

That would be the end of Spencer Strider's afternoon, as the Braves starter, who entered with a 6-3 record with a 2.79 ERA, went just 2 2/3 innings, and allowed four runs, all earned on six hits and two walks, with five strikeouts.

deGrom opened the fourth inning with a strikeout of Swanson, his seventh of the game, and that gave him 1,518 career strikeouts, the most through a pitcher's first 200 career starts. He then got Olson to fly to left field, and Riley struck out to end the inning.

In the fifth, deGrom kept on firing, as he got Rosario to pop out to third base, and he then struck out Contreras and Grossman to give him 10 strikeouts already (out of the first 15 outs of the game) and clinch his 54th double-digit strikeout performance. He had thrown only 56 pitches, with 38 of them strikes, to this point.

In the bottom half of the inning, with Collin McHugh on for Atlanta, McNeil doubled to open it up, then he took third on a fly out to right by Canha, and scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-0 Mets.

deGrom struck out Ozuna to open the sixth, which meant that he had strikeouts against everyone in the Braves lineup by that point. He then struck out Michael Harris II, which gave him 12 K's.

Adrianza drew a walk to break up the perfect game, and then Swanson hit one to right field that went into the Atlanta bullpen for a two-run homer to break the no-hitter and the shutout and make it 5-2.

Mets Manager Buck Showalter then pulled his ace, whose final line was: 5 2/3 innings, 1 hit, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk, 12 strikeouts.

Jacob deGrom leaving to a massive ovation. Photo by Jason Schott.

No comments:

Post a Comment