deGrom's Dr. Jekyll became Mr. Hyde in the three innings after that: he recorded the next eight outs while facing 18 batters, a stretch in which he surrendered six hits -- many of them hit hard -- and issued five walks before he was lifted with two outs in the sixth.
"I feel like, early on, I had control of pretty much everything, and then I was having a hard time getting the ball down," deGrom said. "I felt like I had good command early and lost it late ... I didn't really throw the ball how I wanted to late. I didn't make pitches when I needed to."
The numbers bear out what a conundrum this start was. deGrom got 27 swinging strikes, a career high. But his six walks were also a career high. "It definitely was strange," he said.
Highly volatile outings like this one -- 10 or more strikeouts with six or more walks -- are a rarity in baseball. Only deGrom and the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez have done it this season. Over the last three seasons, it happened only four other times. Oddly, it puts deGrom together with four Mets greats on the list of those who have done it for the club: Johan Santana, Dwight Gooden, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan (who did it five times).
deGrom's game was deceiving enough that catcher Rene Rivera considered it a fairly good performance.
"I thought overall he did a good job. Against that lineup with only three runs? That's a pretty good outing," Rivera said. "He gave us a chance to win.
"I didn't even know it was six walks. I am surprised."
deGrom has pitched well this season, with little to show for it. In his first three starts, he had a 1.89 ERA over 19 innings, but had three no-decisions. After Saturday's mercurial performance, deGrom is 0-1 with a 2.55 ERA as -- again -- the Mets bats didn't back him up.
"Our pitching has kept us in the game. Look at today, when you get beat 3-1 and you think you got blown out, that's not good," manager Terry Collins said.
deGrom couldn't mask his disappointment at being unable to stop the Mets' recent slide. They have lost three straight and seven of eight.
"My goal was go out and put up zeros. I wasn't able to do it," deGrom said. "They had some hard-hit balls off of me. I just wasn't very good late."
Roger Rubin is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.