For the first time in what feels like a very long time, the Mets won by a relatively large margin, defeating the Padres 5-1 in the series opener in San Diego. Jacob deGrom was not quite as dominant as he has been in his previous two starts, but he was still great, holding the Padres scoreless for 7 1⁄3 innings.
The Mets struck early in this game, scoring a run in the first inning from a double by Asdrubal Cabrera and a single by Todd Frazier, which put them up 1-0. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all the Mets could muster against Clayton Richard, who was quite good himself tonight for the Padres. In both the first and second innings, he was able to induce a ground ball double play to end the inning and get himself out of a jam.
However, Jacob deGrom held the fort. After pitching a 1-2-3 first inning, deGrom allowed his first baserunner in the second inning, when Franchy Cordero singled to lead things off. However he was erased when he was caught trying to steal by Jose Lobaton, who had himself quite a nice game, notching two hits with a run scored and an RBI. deGrom then retired Jose Pirela on groundout back to the mound and struck out Carlos Asuaje to end the inning.
While Keith Hernandez was “accidentally” flipping everyone the bird on TV, deGrom collected two more strikeouts in bottom of the third inning, working around a walk to Austin Hedges. Meanwhile, the Mets’ offense continued to look hopeless against Clayton Richard. Michael Conforto, who consistently finds ways to get on base, worked out a walk with one out in the fourth. However, Freddy Galvis then flashed the leather on two consecutive plays, retiring Conforto on a smooth glove flip fielder’s choice on a grounder by Juan Lagares and then Lagares on a nice play on a grounder in the hole from Jose Lobaton. Richard followed that up with his first 1-2-3 inning of the night in the fifth and this game was starting to feel like another deGrom gem slowly slipping away.
deGrom’s biggest challenge came in the fifth. Jose Pirela led off the inning with a walk. Carlos Asuaje then popped up for the first out. Freddy Galvis then dumped a ball into the corner in left field, but Yoenis Cespedes got to it in a hurry and made a barehand grab on the bounce to keep Pirela at second and limit Galvis to a single. deGrom then had one big out to make in Austin Hedges, who was batting ahead of the pitcher. Jake delivered, striking out Hedges and then striking out Richard as well to retire the side, his seventh strikeout of the night.
The Mets’ offensive futility continued in the sixth, when after a leadoff walk by Yoenis Cespedes, three consecutive Mets—Todd Frazier, Wilmer Flores, and Michael Conforto—struck out, Frazier doing so on just three pitches.
Jacob deGrom benefitted from a bit of luck in the bottom of the sixth inning, as some balls were hit hard against him, but the Padres failed to score. Michael Conforto made an excellent diving grab on a Wil Meyers fly ball to right—the first of two web gems Conforto would have in the game. Eric Hosmer then hit a ball hard, but fortunately it was right at Cespedes for the second out. Christian Villanueva followed that up with a shot down the left field line that took a fortuitous carom off the sidewall to keep him to a single. deGrom then retired Franchy Cordero on a popup, caught by Todd Frazier in foul territory after covering an impressive amount of ground, ending the threat.
The decisive inning for the Mets was the seventh. Despite Carlos Asuaje’s best effort, Juan Lagares reached first base on an infield hit. Jose Lobaton then collected his first hit of the year as a right-handed batter, singling up the middle to advance Juan Lagares to third base. Jacob deGrom then laid down a sacrifice bunt up the third base line to advance Jose Lobaton to second base. There were certainly some questioning why Juan Lagares did not attempt to score on the bunt, as he probably would have been safe easily with his speed. But it didn’t matter, as it turns out. After getting Amed Rosario to ground out to second base, Clayton Richard’s night was done after 6 2⁄3 solid innings. Craig Stammen was greeted rudely by Asdrubal Cabrera, who smacked a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Stammen, putting the Mets up 4-0 and tagging Richard with two extra earned runs. After going 0-for-6 yesterday, Cabrera bounced back today, continuing to be the Mets’ most consistent hitter.
Jacob deGrom settled back down in the seventh, working around a Freddy Galvis single. The Mets tacked on another run in the top of the eighth inning against funky submariner Kazuhisa Makita. Makita hit Juan Lagares with a pitch with two out in the inning. Luckily, with an average fastball speed of 79 mph, Makita’s pitches are probably the least painful of anyone in the game when plunked by one. Jose Lobaton drove in Lagares with a double to put the Mets up by five runs. Jacob deGrom then struck out to end the inning, but he batted for himself, which meant that Mickey Callaway had designs on him pitching the eighth inning.
deGrom started the eighth by striking out pinch hitter Matt Szczur, deGrom’s eighth and final strikeout of the night. deGrom then gave up a hard hit single to Wil Myers, ending his fantastic outing. Jerry Blevins was then brought in to face Eric Hosmer, who belted a 2-0 pitch from Blevins to deep right field that seemed destined for the stands. Michael Conforto had other ideas, however. He robbed Hosmer of a home run on an excellent leaping catch. After playing such poor defense lately, it was very refreshing to see the Mets put together a very nice defensive game behind Jacob deGrom and the bullpen. Jerry Blevins was then promptly replaced by A.J. Ramos, who got Villanueva to fly out to end the inning.
The Mets went relatively quietly against Jordan Lyles in the top of the ninth inning. Mickey Callaway then turned to Matt Harvey, making his second relief appearance, to finish up the game. Harvey very quickly gave up a solo home run to the first batter he faced, allowing the Padres to avoid the shutout. He then walked Jose Pirela, continuing to show significantly diminished command with his pitches. Velocity was a concern as well. While we are used to seeing reduced velocity from Harvey at this point, it was the lowest it has ever been in this outing; Gary and Keith were having trouble on the broadcast identifying whether he was throwing fastballs or changeups, which is certainly not a good sign. However, Harvey managed to get it done anyway. He got Carlos Asuaje to fly out and then induced a game-ending double play from Freddy Galvis to close the door.
Jacob deGrom is now 3-0 with a 2.06 ERA, which doesn’t even show how impressive he’s truly been, since he should really have two more wins. While it was troubling how little the offense showed against Clayton Richard, the Mets finally won a relatively easy game for once and played better defense than they have lately. They look to continue to right the ship tomorrow night, as Jason Vargas makes his Mets debut against rookie lefty Joey Lucchesi.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jacob deGrom, +41.4% WPA, Asdrubal Cabrera, +25.1% WPA
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Asdrubal Cabrera’s three-run homer, +22.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Amed Rosario’s groundout to second with second and third and one out in the seventh inning, -8.4% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +43.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: +6.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Asdrubal Cabrera