Been there, done that ... deGrom makes history

Ace becomes first ever to homer, K 13 twice in one season

August 24th, 2019

NEW YORK -- All told, needed 36 pitches to navigate an eight-batter stretch from the third through sixth innings. Beginning with Freddie Freeman and ending with Ronald Acuna Jr., deGrom struck out eight consecutive Braves on Friday en route to a 13-strikeout evening.

If that seems rote, it’s because he’s done this sort of thing before. Friday marked another signature performance for deGrom, who homered on a night when he struck out at least 13 batters for the second time this season, becoming the first pitcher in Major League history to accomplish that feat. That the Braves toppled the Mets in 14 innings, 2-1, forced deGrom to discuss his performance in hushed tones in a quiet clubhouse at Citi Field. But it did not diminish his slice of history.

“It was just making every pitch on the corner, executing every single pitch,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “That’s fun to watch when they punch out eight in a row. It was fantastic.”

Earlier this season, deGrom enjoyed a similar game, homering and striking out 14 Marlins on April 3. He repeated the trick on Friday, giving the Braves heavy doses of his fastball, slider and changeup. All told, Mets pitchers struck out 26 batters to set a franchise record in the defeat.

“Through that little run, I just felt like I was able to locate whatever pitch I was throwing at the time,” deGrom said.

The only blemish on deGrom’s line came in the sixth, when Freeman -- whom deGrom called “frustrating” to face -- singled home Ozzie Albies, seven innings before Billy Hamilton hit a game-winning RBI single off . It was enough to stick deGrom with his fifth no-decision in his last nine starts, despite a 1.22 ERA over that stretch. And it would have been worse had deGrom not homered off Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz in the sixth, shooting a fly ball over the fence in left-center.

“That was satisfying,” deGrom said of tying the game mere minutes after giving up the lead.

While deGrom’s two home runs this season won’t factor into the National League Cy Young Award race, his recent run of success on the mound will. Hyun-Jin Ryu continues to pace the NL in ERA, but the Dodgers lefty allowed seven runs on Friday against the Yankees to bloat his mark to 2.00. deGrom, who ranks fourth in the league, lowered his to 2.56. He also leads the circuit in strikeouts, is second in pitcher WAR and fourth in innings pitched.

It was around this time last year that deGrom began pulling away from the Cy Young pack. With a little more than five weeks remaining in the season, he again finds himself in the thick of the race.

“Tonight, all four pitches were working,” deGrom said. “I had a good feel coming out of the gates for all four pitches. I kind of told [catcher Tomas] Nido that in the dugout. That’s a good team over there. They swing the bats well and the goal was to keep them off-balance.”