This was a Sunday when the New York Mets did not lose their composure. And they did not lose via a blowout which has been a trend on Sunday afternoons during this season of a struggle. But at Citi Field and on getaway day the Mets were able to show the Washington Nationals that they can win one from the divisional leaders.
And on Father’s Day, there was the new ace and now a stopper in Jacob deGrom. He has become the reliable and consistent starter of a struggling rotation and assured that his team would win this Sunday, by tossing 8.0 scoreless innings and allowing one run, unearned on three hits.
He struck out six and walked two, and there is no doubt that Jacob deGrom can be called the ace, the stopper that ended a six game winning streak the Nationals compiled at Citi Field this year.
Manager Terry Collins can look up to his righthander and that can’t be questioned.
“He’s one of those guys that works at it and he applied it,” Collins said. Over his last two starts, deGrom is 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA with eight hits allowed and 12 strikeouts. He threw 105 pitches and had the command with a consistent fastball and slider.
If the ninth inning was his, deGrom was on his way to his second straight complete game. During his last start against the Chicago Cubs, on this homestand, he allowed a run and went the distance in a Mets 5-1 win.
So there is every reason to tab deGrom as the ace. He improved to 6-3 and also helped his cause hitting his first career home, a game tying solo shot in the third inning as the Mets took the final of three from the Nationals, this also a 5-1 win. And he used a David Wright bat that was in the rack.
“I think, I got lucky,” aid deGrom about the home run. “I was running pretty hard. I didn’t know it was gone.” But the fans knew it was gone. It was special on Father’s Day with deGrom’s wife holding their year old son who battled an illness days after he was born.
More so this win was a confidence builder for New York. They have not been able to defeat their division rivals at home. The gap is still deep between the two teams as the Nationals left New York with a 10.5 division lead over the Mets.
However, Collins said that deGrom has become the stopper. Maybe he is not the answer to getting the Mets back into contention, but there is always that one starter that can propel a team and hope to get some consistency and wins.
“Been able to locate both sides of the plate,” deGrom said. “The fastball command is going where I want it.” He also attributed a change to his motion coming off the mound, and to the side that has been a target to his recent success of completing eight innings for the third time in eight starts.
Whatever it is, deGrom has earned that distinction as the ace. He has allowed one run or fewer in 40 of his 90 career starts, the second highest total in Mets history.
Collins always has hope. But there is that reality, even with half a season still to go, that the Mets are never going to catch the Nationals or earn one of two wild card spots.
“Don’t pick up the newspapers,” he said. “Just go win baseball games. The only thing you can control is how you play.. If you go win games, you’ll get back in the race.” With Jacob deGrom, perhaps who has become reliable.
And deGrom is not able to start every game against the Nationals, an obvious point that can’t be changed. With run support behind him, he was able to be more comfortable and got the support from T.J. Rivera who matched a career-high with four hits. Michael Conforto went 2-for-3 with two runs batted in and a walk, his first multi-RBI game since June 2.
“He’s one of the keys in the lineup,” Collins said. “He’s going to get hits.” Since rejoining the Mets, after a brief stint with Triple-A Las Vegas, the Bronx born Rivera is 9-for19.
Rest assured for now, when Jacob deGrom is on the mound the Mets seem to always have a chance to get some wins. This was a Sunday afternoon where the Mets had a chance and they were not denied before embarking on a 10-game road trip that begins Monday night in Los Angeles, followed by three in San Francisco and three more at Miami.
By then, deGrom will have a few more starts and a Mets season of trying to get back into things will be clear as a painted picture.
Rich Mancuso: [email protected] [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso