deGrom fires gem, breaks a Doc Gooden record

25th straight start of 3 runs or fewer sets up Nimmo's winning HR

September 4th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Baseball's modern standard for pitching excellence, both in New York and elsewhere, has long been Dwight Gooden's 1985 season. That year, Gooden strung together 24 consecutive starts of three or fewer runs, finishing with a 1.53 ERA -- still, to this day, Major League Baseball's lowest since the mound was set at its current height in 1969.
Thirty-three years later, another Met has entered Gooden's airspace. In allowing one run over six innings on Monday night in the Mets' 4-2 win over the Dodgers, which sealed with a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the ninth, deGrom delivered his 25th consecutive start of three or fewer runs to break Gooden's single-season record. The outing lowered deGrom's ERA by five one-thousandths of a run, holding its significant decimal places steady at 1.68.
"He's been the best pitcher in all of baseball," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "It's grit and determination. He just won't be beaten."

If that seems pedantic, consider the debate surrounding the National League Cy Young Award competitors. There is Max Scherzer, who allowed three runs in seven innings earlier Monday to fall to third in the NL ERA race behind , whose 2.23 mark is more than half a run worse than deGrom's. Scherzer leads the league in several major statistical categories, with Nola close in just about all of them.
But in terms of run prevention, no one has come close to deGrom, who also broke Tom Seaver's single-season franchise record with his 20th consecutive quality start. The only unwanted ink on deGrom's line spilled early, when former teammate homered with one out in the first. From that point forward, deGrom allowed only one additional hit, with two of the Dodgers' other three baserunners reaching via error.
The last of them, Turner, battled deGrom with a 12-pitch at-bat before reaching on an bobble. But deGrom struck out Manny Machado and induced a groundout of to end his night, ensuring he would break both Gooden and Seaver's records.
"Anytime you're mentioned with players like that, it's nice to hear," deGrom said. "It's an honor. We love playing this game, and that's just how I take the mound. I just want to go out there and give it my best and put this team in a position to win."
If the Mets' defensive lapses weren't enough for deGrom to overcome, he also set another single-season record -- this one unwanted -- with his ninth start of at least six innings and one run or fewer ... and no win. The Mets' only run off Dodgers starter Alex Wood crossed home when deGrom drove in with his second hit of the night, at least allowing himself the luxury of a no-decision.
"Just trying to put the barrel to the ball and hope it finds a hole," deGrom said. "Hitting is what it is. [Pitchers] are not great at it. I'm just trying to do my part anytime I can."

In a pinch: Out of the starting lineup with the left-handed Wood on the mound, Nimmo remained on the bench until the Mets put two runners on base in the ninth against Kenta Maeda. Nimmo fouled off three fastballs near the upper third of the strike zone, before Maeda finally showed him a breaking ball with his seventh pitch of the at-bat. Nimmo didn't miss it, lining the slider a projected 388 feet over the right-center-field fence to break the 1-1 tie.
"I was definitely not trying to hit a home run there," Nimmo said. "But sometimes, that's the result you get when you hit a ball hard."

The clutch shot also gave deGrom solace at the end of an all-too-typical night.
"He ended up with a no-decision," Nimmo said, "which is better than a loss."

Callaway has spoken of using the best defensive alignments possible on nights that deGrom pitches, hoping to give his ace as much help as he can down the stretch. Third baseman did his part in the second inning, tumbling into the stands to steal an extra out.
With one out, Dodgers rookie lofted a foul pop fly down the third-base line, where Frazier gave chase. The ball landed in Frazier's glove just as he reached the wall, cartwheeling over it and into the front row. As Rosario looked on, a fan in a Turner jersey helped Frazier to his feet, while another tried to disentangle his backpack from Frazier's body.
Frazier tumbles into stands on foul grab

Typically behind the plate for deGrom's starts, catcher departed due to neck and back stiffness after singling with one out in the fifth. He is day-to-day. , who returned to the Mets earlier in the day following the birth of his first child, replaced Mesoraco, taking over deGrom's game-plan midway through.
"That can be real tough," Callaway said. "There's a lot of times throughout the season that sometimes it makes sense to maybe do something with the catcher, but you don't want to do it because you'll interrupt the flow of the game with the pitcher and the catcher. The good thing is, Plawecki's done a great job."

The Mets added a second wave of callups to their roster before the game, activating first baseman , infielder and pitcher , all of whom made prior appearances on the team this year. The most intriguing of the bunch is Smith, the team's first-round Draft pick in 2013, whom they plan to use at both first and left field.
"It's something that hasn't been done in over 100 years, so I think it speaks for itself." -- Callaway, on deGrom breaking Gooden's record
The Dodgers made things interesting thanks to a replay review in the ninth. After Verdugo led off with a single against Mets closer , hooked a line drive just past first base. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts challenged the ruling of a foul ball, and the call was overturned. That gave Los Angeles runners on first and third with no outs, but two batters later, Matt Kemp hit into a game-ending double play.

The last time pitched at Dodger Stadium, Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal were atop Los Angeles' lineup. Vargas will face a more contemporary group of Dodgers when he starts Tuesday's 10:10 p.m. ET game opposite left-hander Rich Hill, looking to improve upon the 1.99 ERA he's posted his last four outings.