Jacob deGrom is likely wondering where all this run support has been over the last two seasons. If the offense had been this kind to him in 2018, he would have probably found himself with somewhere between 20 and 25 victories. Alas, the offense cannot make up for its past ineptitude in deGrom’s outings, but consider the last two offensive outbursts the beginnings of an apology.
The Mets actually found themselves behind at the start of this one, as they have so often this season. After the Mets went down quietly in the first against Chase Anderson, the club’s ace found himself in trouble in the first. After striking out Cavan Biggio to start this game, he surrendered a single to Randal Grichuk, who stole second one batter later. With two outs in the inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a fly ball to right that bounced off the right field wall for a single to bring Grichuk home. Jake would recover to strike out Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and ended up retiring seven in a row after that hit, with five coming via the strikeout. The first inning run would be the only blemish against him as he surrendered three hits and walked two with nine strikeouts in a solid six-inning performance which resulted in his fourth victory of the season.
The Mets’ bats broke out in the third inning as they sent nine men to the plate and came away with four runs. The frame began with a Wilson Ramos double, which was promptly followed by a Brandon Nimmo single to put runners at the corners. Michael Conforto, who is making a serious case for the National League MVP award, brought them home with a three-run home run to left-center field, his 23rd opposite field hit of the season. He added another later in the game to make it 24, which trails only the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu for most opposite field hits in baseball.
The Mets weren’t done scoring there. J.D. Davis followed Conforto’s dinger with a walk, and Robinson Cano singled after a Dominic Smith strikeout. After the team chased Anderson from the game, former Met prospect Anthony Kay entered the contest against his old club. He got Jeff McNeil to sky a pop up into medium right-center field, but both Blue Jays outfielders lost the ball in the notoriously tricky Sahlen Field lighting, and the ball dropped untouched for a double which brought Davis home. Kay struck out Andres Gimenez, but the Mets were ahead and would never look back.
If the Blue Jays thought the third inning was bad, the fourth inning was downright nightmarish for a team that currently sits in second place in the American League East, and you would excuse any Mets fan tuning in to this one for being flummoxed by the fact that this Toronto team is in postseason positioning. Kay walked Ramos to lead off the inning, and Nimmo followed with a single past the drawn in third baseman. Conforto walked to load the bases, and Davis followed with a ground ball that should have, at minimum, been a force out at the plate. Shortstop Santiago Espinal threw a perfect strike to catcher Danny Jansen, but he dropped it and saw it roll away from him, which allowed the slow-footed Ramos to cross the plate for the fifth run. Smith was next and worked a three-ball count. It was at this point that Smith, ever so rudely, went against the unwritten rules of baseball and swung on a 3-0 pitch, which he deposited well over the right field wall for his first career grand slam, which blew the game wide open.
Cano kept the hit parade going with a single, but Alonso struck out for the second straight plate appearance. It was at this point that Toronto replaced Kay, who surrendered six runs (five earned) in one-third of an inning, with Jacob Waguespack, who would end up fairing only slightly better than his Blue Jays bullpen counterpart. He immediately served up a single to McNeil and then hit Gimenez on the wrist to load the bases. The Mets’ shortstop spent some time doubled over in pain, but thanks to the padding on his wrist he seemingly avoided any serious injury. Ramos came up next and cleared the bases with a double into the gap that split the outfielders in center and right. After a Nimmo grounder, Conforto singled on a soft liner to left that was dropped by Gurriel Jr. to make it 13-1. Davis then doubled down the left field line for the tenth run of the inning before Smith struck out to finally bring an end to the offensive eruption. In total, the Mets sent 14 men to the plate in an inning that kept Jake off the mound for close to 40 minutes.
From there, the reigning two-time National League Cy Young winner was on cruise control. After escaping a precarious situation in the fifth, where Toronto put runners on second and third with two outs, it looked like his night might be done, but he emerged from the dugout to start the six. With his pitch count climbing to 102, he got the final three batters he faced to fly out as he was able to put up five scoreless inning after a somewhat rocky first. Even without his best stuff and visibly showing frustration at points throughout the night, he was still able to lower his ERA on the season to 1.67. That’s good for tops in the National League with three starts to go. He also leads the league with 79 strikeouts and is near the top in FIP, WHIP, and WAR.
Toronto’s sloppy play reared its ugly head once again to start the seventh inning, to New York’s benefit. Conforto hit what would have been a routine grounder to short, but shortstop Espinal committed a throwing error to help the Silky Elk reach first. Davis and Smith followed with singles, which forced the Blue Jays to replace Waguespeak with Ryan Borouki. The left-hander instantly walked Cano to make it 15-1. After another Alonso strikeout, a forceout on McNeil brought home sweet 16. The Mets added the seventh run when Ramos led off the eighth with a solo shot.
With the Blue Jays looking to preserve their bullpen after a rough outing, the team went to the shortstop Espinal to pitch the ninth. After retiring Luis Guillorme, he hit Alonso with a pitch and allowed an infield hit to McNeil when Espinal was too slow to cover first base. Gimenez doubled to right field which drove home Alonso, though that was all they would get. Erasmo Ramirez, who ate up the final three innings in the blow out, picked up the save despite the 17-run margin of victory.
The Mets will try to make it three victories in a row on Saturday night as they turn to Seth Lugo, who is looking to build off his best overall outing of the 2020 season.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Michael Conforto, 19.1% WPA
Big Mets loser: Andres Gimenez, -8.0% WPA
Mets pitchers: 6.0% WPA
Mets hitters: 44.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto three-run home run in the third, 17.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. first-inning run-scoring single, -8.7% WPA