The largest regular season crowd, 43, 947 in Citi Field history were present for an exciting home opener on Monday afternoon as they watched sophomore sensation Jacob deGrom and relievers Carlos Torres, Jerry Blevins and Jeurys Familia blank the Phillies.
The opening day ceremonies that featured the widow of Detective Wenjan Liu and the sons of Detective Rafael Ramos through out the ceremonial first pitches, a 300’ by 150 ‘ American flag unfurled by 150 NYP)D officers, the National Anthem sung by Officer Lauren Leggio and a helicopter fly over. After the moving ceremony was completed, the 2014 National League Rookie-of-the-Year took the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies.
It’s amazing to realize that that deGrom was an infielder as recently as 2010 when he switched to pitching in his junior year at Stetson University. That year proved to be crucial in his professional development as he was drafted by the New York Mets in the ninth round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft and later made his professional debut with Kingsport in the Appalachian League.
The young pitcher missed the entire 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery, but successfully recovered to compile a 9-3 record in class A the following year, 2012.
In 2013, the Florida native quickly moved from class A to class AA to class AAA.
He began the 2014 season with Las Vegas, AAA, where he had a 3-0 mark. His progress allowed him to reach the majors with the Mets on May 13. He lost his first four decisions, but sizzled from June 21 through the conclusion of the season with a 9-2 won/lost mark. He won the Rookie Triple Crown of pitching with 9 wins, 144 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.69.
The 26 year-old lost his first decision of the current season on April 8 after giving up two runs, two hits, and two walks while fanning six in six frames. His teammates only manufactured one run in the contest.
In the home opener, the righty retired the first seven batters he faced before Freddy Galvis managed an infield single. DeGrom yielded two hits in each of the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, but did not allow a run to score. He walked one and fanned three in 6.1 innings.
Both Mets skipper Terry Collins and deGrom did not feel he was as effective as in his first appearance of the season, but he did earn the win.
Collins described his performance thusly, “I really didn’t think he had his A game today. He has to get used to this stage. There’s a lot more in there.”
The starter’s feelings were the same as his manager, “I was kind of struggling with my command. I think my stuff was better in Washington [game on April 8]. I really had to bear down mentally.”
At this date one year ago deGrom was in the minor leagues. He expressed his excitement for his opportunity on Opening Day in New York, “I was really looking forward to going out there for the home opener. That was a lot of fun. It was like my debut.”
Matt Harvey (1-0) will start on Tuesday night for the Mets against David Buchanan (0-1) for Philadelphia.