Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Mets Even Series With Dodgers On "Fun" Night At Citi Field

Jacob deGrom pitching to Freddie Freeman in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

"That was fun!" was how Mets Manager Buck Showalter termed their 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night at Citi Field.

The Mets did it with a big outing from pitcher Jacob deGrom, a home run from Starling Marte, a catch from Brandon Nimmo over the fence to rob a home run from Justin Turner, and Timmy Trumpet playing his song "Narco" in person to greet closer Edwin Diaz, who earned his 29th save of the season, all done in front of a rocking crowd of 41,799 at Citi Field.

The Mets have now evened this massive three-game series between the National League's best, and the improved to 83-48, and maintained their three-game lead in the National League East over the Atlanta Braves (80-51), who beat the Colorado Rockies, 3-2.

The pitching matchup between deGrom, one of the Mets' aces, and Tyler Anderson of the Dodgers, who entered this one with a record of 13-2 and a 2.69 ERA, lived up to the hype.

DeGrom went seven innings, allowing just one run, on a Mookie Betts home run, on three hits and a walk, with nine strikeouts. His record is now 4-1 on the season, with a 1.98 ERA (earned run average), as he has now made six starts after missing the first four months of the season.

This was the 37th straight start in which deGrom allowed three-runs-or-less, passing the 36 by Clausde Osteen from 1965-66 to take sole possession of the third-longest streak in Major League Baseball history. Only Jim Scott (39 straight starts in 1913-14) and Jim Washburn (38 in 1968-70) have had longer runs of allowing three runs or less. 

DeGrom now has 64 career starts of at least seven innings and one or zero runs allowed, the third-most since 2014, trailing only his teammate Max Scherzer (71) and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (68), who will start the series finale on Thursday afternoon.

"That was the first all the way through the seventh inning outing that he's had," said Showalter. "I thought tonight was one of the first times that Jake had a normal day leading up to it, he had a normal work day, not that he does it, you know, Jake's not a guy you have to tiptoe around on a day he's starting, he wants you to engage him, but six innings, (pitching coach) Jeremy (Hefner) just checked with him, said, 'I'm good' You know, he didn't ask out of the game after the seventh, didn't come to us or anything."

Anderson matched deGrom by going seven innings as well, and he surrendered two runs, both on the Marte homer, on eight hits and no walks, with three strikeouts. 

Betts led off the game with a flyball to deep left field, and then Trea Turner walked, but deGrom recovered by striking out Freddie Freeman and Will Smith to end the inning.

In the second, the Dodgers hit too more balls to the track, as Max Muncy took one to right field and Gavin Lux, who had three RBI in the Dodgers' 4-3 win on Tuesday night, took one to left.

Anderson breezed through the Mets' order the first time through, as he allowed just a first-inning single to Francisco Lindor.

Nimmo changed the Mets' fortunes when he got a two-out hit in the third inning, which brought Marte to the plate. 

The Mets right fielder crushed one to center field, just to the right, in front of where The 7 Line Army sets up shop, for a two-run home run, to make it 2-0 Mets. That was Marte's 16th home run of the season, and it gave him 62 RBI.

Lindor and Pete Alonso followed with singles, giving the Mets four straight hits, but Darin Ruf flew out to right field to end the threat.

By this point, deGrom was cruising, and he wound up retiring 11 in a row before he allowed a hit to Justin Turner, that just got by shortstop Francisco Lindor, with one out in the fifth. DeGrom then got Lux to hit into a force out and Joey Gallo to pop out to shortstop.

The Dodgers got on the board in the sixth when Betts hit another rocket to left field, but this time, there was no doubt about it, as it went into the back part of the lower deck in left field for a solo home run, and that cut the Mets' lead to 2-1. For Betts, it was hit 32nd homer of the season to go along with 70 RBI.

Freeman followed with a two-out single, and he stole second base before Smith gave it quite a ride to deep right field, as Marte caught it on the warning track for the third out of the inning.

In the seventh, with one out, Justin Turner connected on a blast to deeo center that Nimmo tracked down and leaped over the fence to haul in. The Citi Field crowd erupted at what is the new play of the year. 

It appeared that Nimmo had a beat on it, and Showalter said of that, "I've seen it a few times this year, and not one quite with the - but the reason it was tough was there was no hang time, it was pretty much, it didn't lay up there, where you could get to the fence and time your jump. Sometimes, if you do it right, you could use the fence to raise yourself a little bit. It was all a timing thing, and he's played that center field so much, that's why I'm always pushing for standardized warning tracks; some warning tracks aren't as wide as others, which is silly. Our guys know, in this ballpark, once you get to center how many steps you got...It takes a lot of knowledge of your field and how many steps you got and the timing, I think the toughest part was that it didn't hang up there. he had to totally commit to ti and it was a huge play."

DeGrom then struck out Gavin Lux, his ninth strikeout of the night, to end the inning.

Anderson worked around a two-out double to Tomas Nido that went off the bottom of the left field fence, and then he struck out Nimmo to end the inning.

The Mets turned to big right-hander Adam Ottavino for the eighth inning, and he struck out Gallo, then got Cody Bellinger to fly out to left before he struck out Betts to end the inning. Betts was 1-for-4 to this point, with the home run, two strikeouts and a flyout.

Edwin Diaz entered in the ninth to close it out, and he was greeted by the live performance from Timmy Trumpet performing the song he enters to every game at Citi Field, "Narco," live from the field. 

Diaz struck out Trea Turner, then he got Freeman to bounce out to short and Smith to ground out to short to end it.

Showalter said of Diaz's performance and the festivities, "Edwin coming in there with all that, you know, fanfare and rightfully so, it was good for the fans, and the fans loved it, and I'm all for anything the fans love - for the most part. The pressure to deliver in that part of the order with all that coming on is remarkable, been doing it all year for us."

Edwin Diaz pitching to Trea Turner in the ninth. Photo by Jason Schott.

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