|Jacob deGrom firing a strike to Rodolfo Castro in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets, backed by a big start from Jacob deGrom and four runs in the eighth inning, beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon to complete the four-game sweep.
The Mets improved to 93-55, and maintain their one-game lead in the National League East over the Atlanta Braves (91-55), who beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-2. The Mets' magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 2, and they could do it as early as Monday night when they take on the Brewers in Milwaukee with Max Scherzer on the mound.
DeGrom was superb, as he struck out the side in the first inning after allowing a leadoff double to Oneil Cruz.
The Mets responded by giving him an early lead, as Brandon Nimmo beat out an infield hit at first base, then took second on a throwing error by Pirates second baseman Rodolfo Castro. He came into score on a single by Jeff McNeil.
Pete Alonso was up next, and he was hit by a pitch, and after the Mets suffered four of them last night, he had something to say to Pirates starter Johan Oviedo. The benches and the bullpens cleared, but it didn't escalate.
|Pete Alonso pointing at Johan Oviedo on his way to first base after being hit by a pitch. Photo by Jason Schott.|
|The benches and bullpens clearing as the discussion escalated. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Daniel Vogelbach then drew a walk to load the bases, but the Mets couldn't add to their 1-0 lead as Mark Canha struck out looking and Eduardo Escobar popped out to third base.
The Mets got right back at it in the second, as Luis Guillorme opened the frame with a walk, followed by singles from Tomas Nido and Nimmo. After Francisco Lindor struck out, McNeil drew a bases loaded walk, and Alonso drove in a run when he hit into a force out to make it 3-0 Mets.
DeGrom took that lead and ran with it, as he ended up retiring 15 Pirates in a row, with 13 of those strikeouts and that took him all the way through the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, that streak was broken when Zack Collins and Jason Delay singled to open the frame.
That brought up Cruz, who had doubled back in the first, and he launched one to basically the same spot in right-center field, but this time it went over the fence for a three-run homer to tie the game at 3.
That was the last pitch deGrom would throw, as it was his 101st of the day, and his final line ended up being: 5 innings + 3 batters, 4 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 0 walks, and 13 strikeouts. He got the no-decision, so his record remains at 5-2 on the season.
|Oneil Cruz approaching the plate on his home run as Jacob deGrom fires the ball into his glove. Photo by Jason Schott.|
|The Pirates return to the dugout as Mets Manager Buck Showalter approaches the mound. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Of course, as is the case with most of his starts, the Mets ace made some history, as it was a Major League-record 40th straight game that he has allowed three earned runs or less, passing Jim Scott (1913-14), who had the prior record with 39. It also was his 59th straight start allowing fewer than four runs and eight hits, which ties the Major League record (since 1901) held by Rich Hill, who set it from May 4, 2019 to May 25, 2022.
Seth Lugo came on to finish the sixth, which he did after working around a hit by pitch of Bryan Reynolds and he notched a strikeout.
Joely Rodriguez came on for the seventh, and he struck out the side in the seventh, and then had a perfect eighth inning, in which he notched two more strikeouts.
In the bottom of the eighth, with Robert Stephenson, who had pitched a scoreless seventh, on for Pittsburgh, Nido led it off with a single.
Terrance Gore, known as being a stolen base specialist, pinch-ran for Nido, and the Pirates turned to ex-Yankee Manny Banuelos to face Nimmo.
It didn't take long for Gore to steal second base, and because catcher Jason Delay threw it away for an error, he took third.
Nimmo then blooped one into left field to bring in Gore and give the Mets a 4-3 lead.
Lindor then struck out, but McNeil then was walked by Banuelos. Alonso was up next, and Pittsburgh turned to Duane Underwood, Jr.
Alonso walked to load the bases, and Vogelbach followed with a two-run single, and after Canha reached on an error to re-load the bases, Alonso came into score when Escobar bounced into a groundout to make it 7-3 Mets.
Trevor May came on for the Mets in the ninth inning, and he worked around a two-out double from Ke'Bryan Hayes by striking out Jack Suwinski to end it.
That gave the Mets 20 strikeouts on the day, a new team record and it tied the Major League Baseball record.