SEATTLE -- Jacob deGrom wandered a few steps toward home plate then shuffled off to the side, helpless and not entirely sure what to do. deGrom's 95-mph fastball had just struck Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger in the face, knocking him out of the Mets' 3-2 loss Saturday to the Mariners.
Even hours later, upon learning that Haniger had suffered nothing more than a lacerated lip, deGrom was shaken. He found it difficult to recover from that moment, giving up two runs in a second inning that wound up costing him his eight-game winning streak.
"It's not easy to forget about," deGrom said.
Little went right for deGrom in the second, which began with a Nelson Cruz comebacker off his foot. Although deGrom felt well enough to stay in the game, he promptly allowed a double to Kyle Seager, then hit Haniger to load the bases. The next batter, Jarrod Dyson, rapped a two-run single into center field.
"You never want to hit anybody in the face," deGrom said. "It's not easy to pitch after you do that. I was trying to go inside there and it just sailed on me. I definitely feel bad about it. It was not easy to stay out there and re-concentrate."
Eventually, deGrom did, giving up an unearned run in the third inning before retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced (and erasing the 13th on a caught stealing). It wasn't enough to prevent his winning streak from ending. But it was enough to keep the Mets in the game until the ninth, when their seemingly unending streak of offensive chances -- they finished 1-for-9 with men in scoring position -- finally ran dry.
The fact that the Mets even put the potential tying run on base in the ninth, manager Terry Collins said, was a testament to deGrom, who fell to 12-4 with a 3.29 ERA.
"He corrects himself during the game," Collins said. "Really you look back, the worst pitch he threw was the hanging slider to Dyson. He comes off and he gets himself ready and he doesn't do it again. He doesn't get too down about it. He's got to go about his job. He kept us in the game. We had a lot of opportunities. We just didn't score a lot of runs."
With that, deGrom lost for the first time in nine starts, falling a win shy of matching Frank Viola's 27-year-old franchise record. DeGrom did whiff 10 batters to log his eighth double-digit strikeout game of the season, the Mets' most since David Cone in 1992. But that slice of history was hardly consolation for a pitcher who craves perfection.
"I definitely want to win every time I go out there," deGrom said. "Today, I wasn't able to get the win. I needed to make a big pitch, and I wasn't able to do it."