NEW YORK -- It seemed clear by the middle innings on Friday that the Mets, who do not typically give Jacob deGrom much -- if any -- help in his starts, were not about to begin doing so against their interborough rivals. As usual, it was up to deGrom to stay as perfect as possible, lest the Mets lose their seventh consecutive game.
But deGrom came up short of that perfection. The changeup he threw to Brett Gardner in the eighth inning was a mistake beyond what he could afford. The resulting two-run homer led the Mets to a 4-1 loss to the Yankees despite one of deGrom's most dominant outings of the season.
"He's had no margin for error all year," catcher Devin Mesoraco said. "Those aren't easy circumstances to pitch in."
To his credit, deGrom has generally thrived despite those challenges, entering Friday with a 0.57 ERA over his previous eight starts. Facing the minimum through the first five innings, deGrom cracked for an unearned game-tying run after an Adrian Gonzalez error in the sixth. Two innings later he allowed a two-out single to Gleyber Torres and the go-ahead homer to Gardner, who lined his game-changing shot just over the fence in right.
"I made a mistake. I lost us a ballgame," deGrom said, blaming only himself for his first loss of the season. "I left a changeup there, bad pitch over the middle, and he got me."
All told, deGrom allowed three runs -- two earned -- in eight innings, snapping a streak of eight consecutive starts in which he gave up zero runs or one.
Only twice during that streak did he come away with victories, due to an offense that rarely provided much backing and a bullpen that frequently gave away his leads. Things seemed more promising for the Mets when Brandon Nimmo led off the bottom of the first with an upper-deck home run against Masahiro Tanaka, but the next dozen Mets all went down in order.
The Mets have scored a total of three runs in their last 51 innings dating back to June 1.
Reliever Paul Sewald also served up a solo homer, to Giancarlo Stanton in the ninth, to provide the final margin, though the outcome seemed reasonably secure even before that. Not since June 1 have the Mets plated more than one run in a game. Since April 14, the day their nine-game winning streak ended, they are 16 games under .500, and their offense ranks 29th in the Majors.
They have especially struggled with deGrom on the mound, scoring a total of 11 runs in the last seven games he has pitched.
"We talk to him every time, make sure he's in a good spot," manager Mickey Callaway said. "He probably doesn't need it, but we have to go make sure he's OK. You know, those are tough games to lose. You're going out there and you're pitching your heart out."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
If not for some defensive issues behind him, deGrom might have carried a shutout into the later innings. As it was, first baseman Gonzalez committed a fielding error on Tanaka's roller to the right side in the sixth, sparking a rally that the Yankees used to load the bases with one out. Jay Bruce attempted to cut down Tanaka at home on Aaron Judge's subsequent fly ball, but the throw flew well wide of the plate. Tanaka scored with ease, though he would leave the game after experiencing tightness in both hamstrings.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Mets were hoping that the first leadoff home run of Nimmo's career would prove to be a harbinger of better things to come. The 397-foot shot landed in the second deck in right field, giving the Mets an early lead off Tanaka, but an omen it was not: The Mets' next baserunner did not come until the fifth inning.
"To lead off the game with a homer, all of a sudden, you're on the board and feeling good," Callaway said. "So it's frustrating. They basically pitched a shutout after the first inning of the game." More >
HE SAID IT
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game, man. He could be efficient against an All-Star team for 10 starts in a row. He's a tough at-bat." -- Gardner, on deGrom
Quietly another of the Mets' best pitchers for more than a month, lefty Steven Matz has recorded a 2.32 ERA since the start of May. He'll put that on the line when he takes on right-hander Domingo German and the Yankees in a 7:15 p.m. ET game on Saturday at Citi Field.