NEW YORK -- As Mets manager Mickey Callaway approached the pitcher's mound in the seventh inning Monday, he heard a cacophony of voices rising above the Yankee Stadium crowd. Jacob deGrom had retired his last six batters, four via strikeout. He was one out away from placing a capstone not only on his night, but on his latest volley in the National League Cy Young Award race.
"They were all going, 'Leave him in, leave him in,'" Callaway said of the Mets' infielders who joined him on the mound. "They were all battling for their teammate to stay in the game."
Ultimately, Callaway did not relent -- and at little cost in an 8-5 win over the Yankees that further cemented deGrom's status as a Cy Young favorite.
"I've said before that I want to win a Cy Young," said deGrom, who fanned 12 batters. "I think that's what every starting pitcher, or pitcher in general, wants to win as a personal goal. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it."
Unlike deGrom's primary rival, Max Scherzer, who is pitching in a pennant race, deGrom has little left to achieve beyond such individual hardware. Striking out four of the first eight batters he faced at Yankee Stadium, deGrom snapped an 11-inning scoreless streak when Jeff McNeil committed a throwing error on a would-be double play turn in the third. That ignited a two-run rally for the Yankees, who scored again on Didi Gregorius' RBI single in the fifth.
All told, deGrom allowed three runs (two earned), marking his 21st consecutive start of three or fewer -- three shy of Dwight Gooden's franchise record. Throwing 114 pitches, deGrom improved to 7-7 and actually increased his MLB-leading ERA from 1.77 to 1.81, a night after Scherzer sliced his mark to 2.19.
For the second straight outing, the Mets even backed deGrom with an abundance of offense, piling up five home runs against Luis Severino and A.J. Cole. Amed Rosario hit a leadoff shot for the Mets, who also received homers from Jose Bautista, Todd Frazier, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto.
"This whole year he's been an angel, basically, for what we put him through," Frazier said. "We want to get him over the top."
As deGrom rumbles into the final stretch of his best season ever, his manager knows "he's probably going to experience something that he's never experienced before." A pitching coach during both of Corey Kluber's American League Cy Young Award seasons in Cleveland, Callaway recalls the shift in Kluber's demeanor during his final half-dozen starts those years. He figures deGrom, similarly, "is going to be in a race for something else and it's going to mean a lot to him."
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Another win Monday put him ever closer to that goal.
"Big game, big stage, he comes through again and he's never fazed by the moment," Nimmo said. "He's a great guy to be around. He makes you confident just by the way he carries himself. We're all trying to be more like him."
Although they maintain the second-best record in the Majors, the Yankees' loss pushed them 10 games back of the Red Sox in the American League East.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Severino maintained the All-Star righty hander is healthy only make his struggles more vexing.
"We got to help him and get to the bottom of it. Physically, I think he's sound, but we've got to get this righted," said Boone, who announced before the game that Carsten Sabathia was being placed on the disabled list with right knee inflammation. "And that's on all of us, because he's so important."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Back-to-back: Clinging to a two-run lead in the seventh, the Mets received some much-needed insurance when Nimmo and Conforto hit consecutive home runs to open up a 7-3 lead. First it was Nimmo, who took advantage of Yankee Stadium's short porch with a 360-foot shot to right. Conforto then increased the degree of difficulty, going 371 feet to left for his fifth opposite-field home run of the season.
"Everybody pitched in a little bit tonight," Conforto said. "It was a great team win. Jake was great, just like he is every night, and we put up some runs for him. It was a big thing we jumped on Severino early and we chased him out of there a little earlier than usual."
The Mets' five home runs marked their most since also hitting five last June 6 in Texas, and their most ever in a Subway Series contest. They entered the night with six homers in their previous nine games.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Seeking a perfect inning in the fourth, deGrom mowed down Greg Bird and Gleyber Torres before inducing a soft Neil Walker chopper to the right side. Charging the ball, Wilmer Flores fielded it and used his glove to scoop a throw to first base, where deGrom was rushing to cover. But Flores slipped a bit as he threw, forcing deGrom to reach down, snare it and stomp on the bag just before Walker reached it.
HE SAID IT
"I normally am watching 'Blaze [and the Monster Machines]' or 'Paw Patrol.'" -- deGrom, when asked if he tuned in for Scherzer's 11-strikeout performance on Sunday night
Jason Vargas will return to the mound when the Mets continue their 10-day, 11-game, four-city road trip Tuesday with the first of two games in Baltimore. Vargas recorded just one out during his last start in a rain-shortened game at Citi Field; he'll look for significantly more length when he opposes right-hander Andrew Cashner in the 7:05 p.m. ET opener at Camden Yards.