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deGrom K’s thirteen, Conforto has a big night at the plate in Mets victory

The Mets took the series opener from the Diamondbacks at Citi Field.

Arizona Diamondbacks  v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Jacob deGrom put any lingering worries about his health to rest last night, as he tied a career best with thirteen strikeouts over seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits. He was dealing right out of the gate tonight, striking out two in the first inning and retiring the Diamondbacks in order, needing just thirteen pitches to do so—a vast improvement over his first frame in his last outing.

win 3-1 (squeeze)

The Mets offense hit the ground running as well. Brandon Nimmo, as is his way, led off the game with a walk. With Juan Lagares now out long term and Yoenis Cespedes still on the DL, Brandon Nimmo should be a fixture in the leadoff spot for awhile. Asdrubal Cabrera then hit a grounder to the hole between shortstop and third base, which was fielded by Ketel Marte and thrown wildly to second in attempt to retire Nimmo on a force out, but Daniel Descalso was unable to handle the errant throw and Nimmo advanced to third base and Asdrubal Cabrera stood safe at first on the error. The error proved to be costly for the Diamondbacks. Wilmer Flores hit a grounder to Jake Lamb, who perhaps had a play on Brandon Nimmo at the plate, but opted to go to first base for the out and the Mets were on the board. Asdrubal Cabrera advanced to second on the groundout by Flores. Zack Godley then struck out Jay Bruce swinging, but Michael Conforto drove in Cabrera with an RBI single to put the Mets up 2-0. Adrian Gonzalez then grounded into a 5-6 force out to retire Conforto at second and end the inning.

This would be the end of the Mets’ scoring for quite awhile, but that didn’t matter much. Jacob deGrom was cruising. deGrom retired the Diamondbacks 1-2-3 again in the second inning, assisted by a nice running grab by Jay Bruce on a drive into the gap in right-center off the bat of Ketel Marte. In the bottom of the second, Devin Mesoraco led off the inning with a walk, which gave Jacob deGrom a chance to avoid having to swing the bat by laying down a bunt. However, he bunted just a little too hard to the third base side and Jake Lamb—fresh off of the disabled list for the Diamondbacks—was able to retire the slow-footed Mesoraco at second. Amed Rosario then grounded into a 6-4 force play and Brandon Nimmo struck out to end the inning.

deGrom surrendered his first hit to lead off the third inning when Alex Avila ripped a single on a first pitch fastball. But deGrom then made quick work of Jarrod Dyson, Zack Godley, and David Peralta to emerge unscathed. Zack Godley worked around a one-out walk to Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto’s second hit, a single to left, by striking out Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez to end the threat.

Both pitchers settled in nicely in the fourth inning. Jacob deGrom struck out the side to bring his strikeout total up to seven for the night and Zack Godley had his first 1-2-3 inning of the night. Jacob deGrom showed the first chink in his armor in the fifth inning, when Daniel Descalso led off with a single. He then ran a 3-2 count on Ketel Marte and seemed to briefly lose trust in the good fastball he had working all night before that at-bat. But he buckled down and struck Marte out swinging on a beautiful pitch inside. He then struck Avila out swinging too and seemed back on track after the brief lapse. Jarrod Dyson singled, but he promptly struck out the pitcher Godley to reach ten strikeouts on the night.

The Mets were able to add to their lead in the bottom of the fifth, when Wilmer Flores laced a two-out double to the left field corner. Jay Bruce then worked out a walk and Michael Conforto singled to drive in Flores, his third hit and second RBI of the night. Godley was able to limit the damage by getting Adrain Gonzalez to bounce one back toward the mound, which deflected off of Godley’s glove to Descalso with ample time to throw out Gonzalez to end the inning.

The sixth inning began with David Peralta acting as deGrom’s eleventh strikeout victim. But Steven Souza Jr. then singled up the middle and Jake Lamb doubled down the line to plate a run, ending Jacob deGrom’s scoreless streak at 24 13 innings. Souza Jr. ran through a stop sign put up by his third base coach, which potentially kept the Diamondbacks from having a big inning, as the Mets were able to nab Lamb at third base, trying to follow Souza. deGrom was then able to strike out the slumping Paul Goldschmidt to end the threat. In the bottom of the sixth, Steven Souza Jr. was replaced in right field with Chris Owings; Souza apparently exited the game due to right pectoral soreness and will have an MRI. Godley ended his outing on a high note, retiring the Mets 1-2-3 in the frame, including Jacob deGrom, whose moratorium on swinging the bat continued.

With deGrom at 94 pitches through six innings, Mickey Callaway made the decision to stay with deGrom for the seventh inning. At first, it seemed like that decision may come back to bite him, as Daniel Descalso promptly doubled to lead off the inning. But deGrom erased any skepticism, inducing a groundout to first from Ketel Marte and striking out Alex Avila to put his strikeout total at a baker’s dozen. On his 100th pitch of the night, he got Jarrod Dyson to pop out to end the inning, prompting Gary Cohen to exclaim, “What a bulldog!” Agreed, Gary. Agreed.

Andrew Chafin pitched a perfect inning in relief of Godley in the bottom of the seventh. Robert Gsellman responded by pitching a perfect eighth. The Mets threatened to add to their lead in the bottom of the eighth against ex-Met Fernando Salas. With one out, Michael Conforto hit a grounder up the middle on which Ketel Marte could not make the play, resulting in an infield hit for and a perfect 4-for-4 on the night for Conforto. Adrian Gonzalez then bunted against the shift for his own infield hit, advancing Conforto to second. Devin Mesoraco then flew out to left for the second out. Mesoraco had a frustrating night at the plate, missing several pitches to hit. Jose Reyes then worked a good pinch hit at-bat and walked to load the bases for Amed Rosario. Rosario popped out to second baseman Daniel Descalso, who nearly cost the Diamondbacks two runs by dropping the ball, but upon further review, the umpires reversed the initial call on the field and deemed the play a catch.

Jeurys Familia was excellent tonight, striking out the side—including handing the struggling Paul Goldschmidt a golden sombrero for the evening—in the ninth inning to shut the door for his twelfth save of the season. Mets pitching struck out sixteen batters in total and walked none. Jacob deGrom improves to 4-0 on the year with a sparkling 1.75 ERA, the fourth-best mark in baseball. deGrom now also sports a 12.2 K/9; the record in that category over a whole season for the Mets is held by Dwight Gooden at 11.39 in 1984.

The lefties Steven Matz and Patrick Corbin match up tomorrow night for the second game of this three game series.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Jacob deGrom, +30.4% WPA, Michael Conforto, +18.1% WPA
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Asdrubal Cabrera reaches and Brandon Nimmo advances to third on Daniel Descalso’s error in the first inning, +9.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jacob deGrom gives up a leadoff double to Daniel Descalso in the seventh inning, -8.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +44.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: +5.7% WPA
GWRBI!: Michael Conforto