Jacob deGrom left the mound shaking his head after finishing Thursday’s sixth inning. It was the only one all night, of course, where the perfectionist didn’t post a zero on the scoreboard.
The team co-ace’s fifth start since returning from the injured list was just as encouraging as the top four for the first-place Mets, who started a 20-of-23 streak against teams under of .500 with a 3-1 victory. on the Rockies at Citi Field.
“Jake was great for us. Shocker,” Pete Alonso said after the Mets got back on track after two Subway Series losses earlier this week to the Yankees. “Jake was great for us, and it’s great to see him again.”
Working with two extra days off since his previous outing last Thursday, deGrom retired the first 12 batters he faced and came away with a 3-1 lead after six innings. The two-time Cy Young winner allowed one run on three hits with a walk and nine strikeouts on an 87-pitch effort, a handful shy of his season-high 95 last week against the Braves.
“I feel good. We went a little over the top, in the Atlanta one, and I felt good after that too,” deGrom said. “I think that was the real test. What did I finish tonight, 87 [pitches]? So I think the next one will probably be they let me go for as long as they can, over 100.
“We tick all the boxes and [moving] towards that.
Alonso hit a two-run homer in support of deGrom, which went 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts since returning from the injured list this month.
“Sometimes when guys rest more, they’re not as clean on the controls, but he was the difference in the game for us,” Buck Showalter said after the Mets improved to 80-46. “The idea is to keep all of our pitchers around and healthy, not just Jake.”
Max Scherzer also missed nearly seven weeks between May and July with an oblique strain, and deGrom finally returned to the rotation on August 2 – after missing nearly 13 months with shoulder problems.
DeGrom, 34, opened Thursday’s game with seven strikeouts among the first twelve batters he faced on four perfect frames.
The Mets had multiple base runners in two of the first three innings against Rockies right-hander Ryan Feltner, taking a 3-0 lead in three.
Tyler Naquin (2 for 4) snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a corner runners single in the third, but rookie Brett Baty – who went 1-for-4 in his Citi Field debut – hit out looking for the third withdrawal.
Francisco Lindor and Alonso — each playing his 125th of the Mets’ first 126 games — combined to drive in all three innings of the third. After Lindor’s 85th RBI of the season came home on an infield, Alonso smashed a 3-0 four-seam fastball from Feltner across the face of the second deck to left center for his best 31st home run in the league. year and a 3 -0 lead.
The Rockies finally got their first two runners against deGrom in the fifth, on a single outfield by Jose Iglesias and a double inside third base by Randal Grichuk. But deGrom blocked both runners in scoring position with a punch from Sam Hilliard, his eighth of the game, and a fly-ball from Brian Serven.
The Rockies were ultimately successful at deGrom on Ryan McMahon’s solo explosion in the bullpen in the sixth, but the four-time All-Star finished the inning by sniffing Charlie Blackmon and bouncing CJ Cron in a force play for the third outside.
When asked if he hoped to stay for the seventh, deGrom replied: “I’d rather go out there and finish the inning, so where do you push it? I think I’m around the same [pitch-count] spot a few times now, hopefully next time we’ll be there for over 100.
Seth Lugo escaped a self-induced base-loaded jam in the seventh and closer Edwin Diaz worked a scoreless eighth against the Rockies’ midfield before Adam Ottavino recorded the final three outs in the ninth for his first stop of the season.