deGrom takes 'frustrating' loss on birthday
ATLANTA -- For the first seven innings of Friday night's opener at Turner Field, a 2-1 Mets loss, it looked as though Jacob deGrom was setting himself up for his eighth win of the season -- a pretty good 27th birthday present.
But after running into trouble in the eighth inning -- surrendering a leadoff double to Andrelton Simmons, and then a sac bunt and an infield single making it first and third with one out -- that present started to slip away, and deGrom was lifted from the game.
On the very next batter, the gift was gone for good, as deGrom watched reliever Sean Gilmartin give up a game-winning double to Jace Peterson, making winners of the Braves and debuting starter Matt Wisler.
"[I] just thought it was time [to pull deGrom]," manager Terry Collins said after the game. "97 pitches, 90 degrees out; he hung a slider to Simmons. He [left] the ball up to [Eury] Perez even though he was bunting."
Prior to the eighth inning, deGrom was in complete control of the Atlanta lineup, holding the Braves to just a pair of hits and a walk while striking out three.
"I think I was just locating all of my pitches again. Mixing it up and being able to locate whenever I needed to," deGrom said. "It's frustrating, but we're playing again tomorrow, so I look forward to winning that one."
One of the most frustrating moments came in the decisive eighth inning, when -- with Simmons on third with one out, and deGrom still in the game -- Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores hesitated too long on a ground ball from pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco, looking Simmons back to third.
Ciriaco hustled down the line to beat Flores' throw, setting up Peterson's game-winner to straightaway center field.
"We [had Ciriaco], too, just didn't make the out, make the play," Collins said. "I mean, it [would have been] the second out in the inning. Jake's got a chance to finish the leadoff hitter, but we don't have to worry about it now."
This season, deGrom and the entire New York pitching staff have had to be as sharp as possible, with the offense scoring just 3.71 runs per game -- one of the lowest averages in the league.
"Our pitching's very good. Jake's very good," Collins said. "We're just not scoring runs. We've said before, they live on the edge. They can't make too many mistakes, because we're not scoring.
"But he pitched a great game."