Despite struggles, deGrom battles vs. Cubs
Righty frustrated with outing, but fights back to escape jams
NEW YORK -- After his 115th pitch cleared the fence and his manager called to the bullpen, Jacob deGrom walked calmly off the mound and into the Mets' dugout, where the familiar orange of a Gatorade cooler awaited.
He paused, took a few steps, and -- with his pitching hand -- punched it just beside the lightning logo. The cooler spilled to the ground as deGrom sat on the bench.
deGrom had allowed four runs -- three earned -- over 5 1/3 innings, taking the loss as the Mets fell to the Cubs, 6-1, Thursday at Citi Field. The stutter raised deGrom's season ERA to 2.30 and dropped him to 8-6 on the season.
"I didn't have the game I wanted," he said. "I had a tough time commanding my pitches. I was wild. I just struggled out there today."
The right-hander started the afternoon with a heavy assortment of sliders and changeups, a game plan that sprung from his bullpen session before the game.
As he worked through his pregame routine, deGrom realized he wasn't at his sharpest. The extra day of rest given to him by way of the Mets' on-again, off-again six-man rotation didn't have any effect, he said.
"Even in the bullpen, I was struggling with my command," deGrom said. "It's happened before, and I've come out and had good command in the game. It's just one of those days."
When he took to the mound, deGrom managed to work through most of his command issues. That effort is what Mets manager Terry Collins said impressed him the most. deGrom sat down the first three Cubs he faced in order, allowed a run via a squeeze bunt in the second inning and got himself out of a bases-loaded situation in the third.
A bloop single after a seven-pitch at-bat by Anthony Rizzo scored the Cubs' second run, and a Jonathan Herrera home run in the sixth inning knocked deGrom out of the game.
"He didn't have his best stuff, he didn't have command of the stuff he had," Collins said. "What he did do is what we're all accustomed to watching, and he battled his butt off."
By most standards, deGrom's afternoon wasn't terrible. A lot of pitchers give up three earned runs and call it a good day at work. Not deGrom. Collins said underneath his now-famous long hair and calm persona lies a competitor just as intense as teammates Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard.
Hence, the Gatorade cooler.
"You're allowed to have some emotion," Collins said. "I support it. I hope he kicked a lot of stuff on the way up there [to the locker room]."