Jacob deGrom broke another record tonight. His 23 consecutive quality starts are the most in a single season. This time, he got a win to show for it, as the Mets defeated the Nationals 4-2 in Washington.
In a rather shocking turn of events, deGrom was granted the lead before he even took the mound. The Mets got to Joe Ross with a run in the top of the first, thanks to an Amed Rosario double and a Jay Bruce single that put them on the board. deGrom put up a zero in the bottom of the frame, striking out two batters, but proved mortal in the second. Uncharacteristically, he began missing with his pitches and issued a leadoff walk to Anthony Rendon and subsequently got in a 3-0 hole against Juan Soto. After Devin Mesoraco visited the mound to calm him down, deGrom was able to work the count back to 3-2 against Soto, but Soto then laced a single to right field to put runners at first and third with nobody out. Ryan Zimmerman than hit a loud fly ball, but it stayed in the ballpark. It was, however, plenty deep enough to score Rendon from third to even the game at one apiece. Wilmer Difo then grounded into a force out at second for the second out. At this point, deGrom’s pitch count was rising and fears that he may not go deep into the game began to mount. However, deGrom was able to pick Difo off first to bring the inning to an end.
deGrom showed no signs of vulnerability after that. I, for one, settled in with my glass of wine fully prepared for a 1-1 nail biter into the late innings, in which deGrom would leave with a no decision. However, the Mets’ bats answered immediately in the top of the third. Michael Conforto got things going with a one-out double. Jay Bruce, continuing to swing a hot bat, smacked an RBI double to put the Mets back on top. Brandon Nimmo then grounded out to first for the second out, but Bruce advanced to third on the play. Dominic Smith then hit a laser of a single just over the glove of a jumping Difo, playing in short right field in the shift, to plate Bruce to make it 3-1. Todd Frazier then hit a grounder to third that would have ended the inning, if not for a fielding error on the part of Rendon that allowed him to reach safely. The error proved costly, as Mesoraco then laced a double to score Smith from second. Frazier also tried to score on the play, but was narrowly tagged out at the plate thanks to a perfect throw from Soto.
Nonetheless, deGrom then had a three-run lead and that was all he would need. He was immaculate after the second inning hiccup, surrendering just one more hit through 98 pitches and seven innings. He struck out eight batters. Joe Ross settled down as well and was able to log a quality start in the end, going six innings, as just three of the four runs he yielded were earned. He collected three strikeouts.
The Nationals turned things over to their bullpen in the seventh and the bullpen pitched three strong innings of relief, not giving the Mets any more insurance. Tim Collins tossed a scoreless seventh, working around a walk to Conforto. Jimmy Cordero also worked around a walk—a two-out base on balls to Mesoraco, who reached base in all four of his plate appearances in his first game back—to log a scoreless eighth. Austen Williams gave up a couple of hard hit balls in the ninth, but they found Nationals gloves and he, too, pitched a scoreless inning.
Meanwhile, things were a little more rocky for the Mets’ bullpen. Seth Lugo came on to pitch the eighth and surrendered a one-out walk to Spencer Kieboom. The pinch hitter Andrew Stevenson followed with a single to put two men on with one out. Lucky for Lugo, Victor Robles grounded into an unconventional 5-4-5 double play to end the inning. Stevenson was thrown out at second via the force out, but Kieboom found himself frozen between second and third and was tagged out to complete the double play.
If Lugo’s eighth inning was slightly nerve-racking, Robert Gellman’s ninth inning had me reaching for an antacid. Trea Turner immediately led off the inning with a double. Then Bryce Harper, who had been completely stymied by deGrom, sent one for a ride deep to left field, but Conforto made a jumping grab on the warning track. As was the case last night, Harper was noticeably frustrated, as he’s hit the ball very hard to no avail a few times in this series. Rendon then singled to score Turner, the third hard-hit ball off Gsellman in a row. Nonetheless, Mickey Callaway stuck with his closer. He was rewarded for his choice, as he struck Soto out on a 3-2 fastball that registered at 98 mph on the gun—the hardest I can remember Gsellman throwing this season. He then got Zimmerman to fly out to end the game, secure deGrom’s ninth win of the season, and earn his twelfth save.
With the Braves beating the Phillies soon after the conclusion of the game, the Nationals were officially eliminated from playoff contention. With the Mets announcing that Zack Wheeler will be shut down for the remainder of the season due to innings concerns, Corey Oswalt will take the hill for game three of this four game series, facing off against Nationals rookie Austin Voth.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jacob deGrom, +27.2% WPA, Jay Bruce, +17.4% WPA, Devin Mesoraco, +11.5% WPA
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Seth Lugo induces a fielder’s choice, double play grounder from Victor Robles in the eighth, +11.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Juan Soto’s single to put two on and nobody out in the second, -9.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +37.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: +12.9% WPA
GWRBI!: Dominic Smith