deGrom (12 K's) continues Cy push in loss
BOSTON -- The Mets' inability to support Jacob deGrom has done nothing to mute his routine excellence.
If anything, the Mets' foibles have only underscored it, giving deGrom, with two starts remaining, a realistic chance to win the National League Cy Young Award despite a losing record. Allowing three runs in seven innings Sunday at Fenway Park, deGrom extended his Major League record to 27 consecutive starts of three runs or fewer. He matched Bob Gibson and Chris Carpenter with his 22nd straight quality start. But he took a no-decision in the Mets' 4-3 loss to the Red Sox because, his teammates, once again, offered him inadequate support.
A foregone conclusion for months, the loss officially eliminated the Mets from NL East contention. They can be eliminated from overall playoff contention as soon as Monday.
All told, it made for a familiar postgame clubhouse scene, in which deGrom bemoaned his performance despite a stellar start.
"I'm not happy with it," he said. "I don't like giving up runs. … I want to win every baseball game I throw, but it hasn't gone that way this year for me."
Buzzing through the game's first two innings, deGrom hit a rare patch of trouble when Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez singled in the third, and Mookie Betts lofted a sacrifice fly. The next batter, Brock Holt, cracked a two-run homer to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
deGrom then walked the leadoff man in the fourth, but as quickly as his issues developed, they disappeared; following that walk, he retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced. The Red Sox did not score again until Tzu-Wei Lin opened the bottom of the eighth with a double off Seth Lugo, plating the go-ahead run on Andrew Benintendi's sacrifice fly.
By that time, deGrom was watching from afar, having struck out 12 batters over seven shutout innings. His ERA rose to 1.78, still by far the Majors' best -- better even than American League leader Chris Sale (1.92), who delivered three shutout innings on a strict pitch count for the Red Sox.
"I just kept focus," deGrom said. "I knew I had good stuff. I made a couple mistakes that inning and just had to turn the page and go out there and try to keep us in the game."
That much, at least, deGrom accomplished for the 30th time in 30 starts this season. The run has transformed deGrom into a favorite for the NL Cy Young Award; winning it would make him the first starter to take home a Cy with a losing record.
With every passing week, it's a possibility that grows closer to reality. Max Scherzer, who leads the NL in innings and strikeouts, gave up six runs in his last outing to spike his ERA to 2.53, three-quarters of a run higher than deGrom. Second in the NL is Aaron Nola at 2.42.
"I have seen what they're doing," deGrom said. "What they do is out of my control. I've got to go out there and throw the baseball."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Down and dirty: The Mets' seventh-inning rally managed to take deGrom off the hook for his 10th loss, but left them wondering if they could have had more. With two men on base and two outs, Amed Rosario ripped a single up the middle to plate the game-tying run off Joe Kelly. The next batter, Jeff McNeil, hit a softer grounder up the middle, where Holt glided over from shortstop to field it. As Holt's throw arrived at first, McNeil slid into the base instead of sprinting through it.
Afterward, McNeil declined to discuss why he chose to slide. Manager Mickey Callaway said he is fine with players sliding into first "if you feel like you can get there quicker."
"If he thinks he can beat a throw and win a game or whatever -- and be safe -- he can do whatever he wants," Callaway said.
The matchup between deGrom and Sale was the first in 33 years between pitchers with sub-2.00 ERAs over at least 100 innings. The last time it occurred was in 1985, when Dwight Gooden (1.74 ERA) faced John Tudor (1.95), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
HE SAID IT
"I asked him before the game why he wasn't in the lineup. I need my redemption against him."
-- Sale, on deGrom, a former shortstop whose only collegiate home run came against him in 2010
One of baseball's best pitchers over the past two months, Zack Wheeler will face stiff competition when he opposes right-hander Jacob Arrieta in the Mets' series opener Monday in Philadelphia. Wheeler, who is 8-1 with a 1.32 ERA since the All-Star break, will start the 7:05 p.m. ET game at Citizens Bank Park.