In the sci-fi movie, “The Terminator,” the lead character is a cyborg surrounded by living tissue.
Jacob deGrom pitches like a “Terminator” on the mound. He is surrounded by living tissue, but he is not a cyborg. Last night, he showed that he is human.
Michael Harris snapped a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning with an RBI double that scored rookie Vaughn Grissom from first base as the Braves went on to beat deGrom and the Mets, 3-2.
With the win, Atlanta took three of four in the series and are 3½ games behind the Mets in the NL East, four in the loss column. It was the first division series loss by the Mets this season, but they’re still 40-18 in divisional play.
The two time Cy Young Award winner had his longest outing of the season as he tossed 95 pitches in 6 and 2/3 innings and struck out nine. deGrom gave up three runs on five hits as he lost for the first time this season.
Braves left hand ace Max Fried was equal to the task of opposing deGrom. Fried went seven innings and gave up two runs in picking up his 11th win of the season.
With two out in the seventh, Grissom reached on an infield single. That ended a streak of 12 in a row set down by deGrom. Mets rookie third baseman Brett Baty knocked it down but couldn’t make a play on the hard grounder. That was deGrom’s last batter as Mets Mgr. Buck Showalter replaced him with Seth Lugo.
Harris ran the count to 3-2 and with Grissom on the move, the Braves rookie shot a ground ball through the middle that got past Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil. Grissom motored towards third base as Brandon Nimmo approached the ball in short center field.
The Braves know that Nimmo plays deep and does not have a great throwing arm, so Grissom gambled and never stopped going as he beat the relay throw home to score to go ahead and eventual winning run.
Nimmo appeared to slow down as he got to the ball, almost assuming that Grissom would stop at third, but he said he knew the Braves rookie was going. “That ball found its way through and by the time it got to me, it was barely rolling,” Nimmo said after the game.
Nimmo’s throw was cut off by first baseman Darin Ruf, but his relay was too late to prevent the run from scoring. “The only thing I wish I would’ve done, maybe, is just let it rip to home plate,” he said.
The revelation that deGrom was human came in the bottom of the third inning of a scoreless game.
With two out and Robbie Grossman on first, Dansby Swanson, who homered off deGrom at CitiField earlier this month, lined a double to left center field to score Grossman with the first run. Austin Riley singled to score Swanson as the Braves got two off deGrom for a 2-0 lead.
Being the perfectionist that he is, deGrom held himself accountable for giving up two runs. “It really comes down to two pitches. The one to Dansby, just a bad slider over the middle and then the one to Riley,” deGrom said. “Those are two mistakes I wish I had back. They capitalized on it.”
Considering the high standards that deGrom has created for himself, it was a bit surprising to see him give up two in that spot. “Bent a litle bit there,” Showalter said. “Gosh, the level that he pitches at, people expect perfection every time he cocks his arm. It was close to it, we just didn’t score any runs.”
The Mets did score a couple in the fifth to tie the game at two. McNeil led off with a single and Mark Canha hit a two run home run off of Fried. The Braves’ left hander had not given up a home run since June 9th, a span of 69 and 1/3 innings, but that ended with Canha’s shot into the left field stands.
In the ninth, Braves’ closer Kenley Jansen gave up a leadoff single to Lindor. Jansen is slow to the plate, so Lindor took off for second on the first pitch to Pete Alonso and appeared to have the bag stolen. Alonso swung and lifted a pop fly to short right field. Lindor, who assumed the ball would be caught, was headed back to first base, but there was some confusion between the Braves’ outfielders and the ball fell in.
Lindor had no chance to get to second as Ronald Acuna Jr threw the ball in for the force out. “Just one of those plays, unfortunate. Very fortunate for them,” Showalter said.
Daniel Vogelbach hit for Ruf and struck out. Devin Marrero ran for Alonso and stole second but Jansen got McNeil on a comebacker to end it.
The Mets were hoping for a better result than dropping three of four to their main competitors, but it was important that they avoided a sweep.
Now it’s on to Philadelphia for a key, four game series. “We just gotta continue to play good baseball,” deGrom said. “Worry about what we can do and not what other teams are doing. Just go out there and try to win every day.”
Like the Terminator, deGrom will be back.