NEW YORK -- In a sense, Jacob deGrom said recently, the most frustrating part of May was that he had pitched so well. Before the Mets removed deGrom from a May 2 start due to a hyperextended right elbow, he felt untouchable. When they skipped deGrom's next start out of caution, he believed he was healthy enough to pitch. When the Mets again took deGrom out early last Sunday in Philadelphia due to a 45-pitch first inning, he was working on a 19 1/3-inning scoreless streak.
Despite those interruptions, deGrom lost nothing in the way of effectiveness. He matched his career high with 13 strikeouts Friday in a 3-1 win over the D-backs at Citi Field, allowing one run in seven innings in his first unabbreviated start of the month.
"He has about six putaway pitches," catcher Devin Mesoraco said. "He's got so many weapons that they can't really look for one. And he had them all going today."
Taking the mound for just the second time in 16 days, deGrom was sharp from the jump, retiring the first six batters he faced. He did not begin piling up strikeouts until his second time through the order; given a second crack at the D-backs, deGrom whiffed seven of nine. Arizona's first run did not cross home until Jake Lamb doubled to right field with one out in the sixth, plating Steven Souza Jr.
That snapped deGrom's career-best scoreless streak at 24 1/3 innings, though it did little to slow the Mets' cruise toward victory. Michael Conforto provided plenty of early offense for the Mets, matching a career best with four hits -- including a pair of RBI knocks against D-backs starter Zack Godley.
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With Conforto's offense providing them cushion, Robert Gsellman and Jeurys Familia combined on the final six outs for the Mets. But it was deGrom who shined brightest, racking up the Mets' longest scoreless-innings streak since Bartolo Colon in 2015. Because deGrom had thrown just 91 total pitches since his last full outing on April 27, starting only twice in that time, the Mets harbored some uncertainty that he would be able to last deep into this one.
At 94 pitches after the sixth inning, deGrom returned to the dugout, where manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland asked if he had more to give. Ready to pull deGrom from the game at that point, Callaway said, he changed his mind when he saw how badly deGrom "wanted it."
"You always have that concern when guys' schedules and routines get a little off-kilter," Callaway said. "But he showed up today and he wasn't too worried about it, obviously."
"I was able to throw strikes," deGrom said. "I felt comfortable throwing any pitch in any count tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Mets took advantage of a Daniel Descalso error to score two unearned runs in the first inning. After Brandon Nimmo walked to open the inning, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a potential double-play ball to shortstop. But Descalso could not hang onto Ketel Marte's toss to second base, giving the Mets runners on the corners with no outs. The next batter, Wilmer Flores, plated New York's first run with a groundout. Two batters later, Conforto singled up the middle for the first of his four hits.
deGrom became the first Mets pitcher to strike out at least 13 and walk none since Chris Capuano in 2011. The only other players to do it are Tom Seaver (twice), Dwight Gooden (twice), Sid Fernandez (twice) and David Cone (once).
HE SAID IT
"I told them, 'Whether it's fair or not, our season's going to go how you guys go.' That's just the reality of this game. … They've got to get the job done for us to be a good team." -- Callaway, on deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, whom the Mets recently split up in their rotation
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
An opportunity to tack on some offense unfolded in the eighth inning for the Mets, who loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of hits and a walk. Amed Rosario lofted a pop fly to shallow right field, where Descalso settled under it and appeared to make the catch, only for the ball to pop out of his glove a second later. Originally ruling Rosario safe, umpires conferred and changed the call, prompting Callaway to challenge. A 44-second replay review was all umpires needed to confirm the inning-ending catch.
Although Steven Matz's 3.86 ERA indicates he's been effective in seven starts, his underlying statistics suggest some luck has played a role. Matz will look for some consistency when he starts the Mets' Saturday rematch against the D-backs, opposite a fellow lefty, Patrick Corbin. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.