Flushing, NY- A playoff-like atmosphere on the final day of August. The camera flashes and bright lights stormed into Queens on Wednesday evening as the New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom took the mound against a surging Los Angeles Dodgers team that holds the best record in baseball. To catch the thrilling action and perhaps, the future NLCS showdown, 41,799 were in attendance at Citi Field.
“That was a great atmosphere out there. The fans were in it the whole time, that makes it a lot of fun,” said deGrom.
Alongside catcher Tomás Nido, deGrom began the night barraged with immediate applause by the Mets faithful as the two approached the field from the bullpen gates. Fans took in the mesmerizing experience of deGroms warmup with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” blasting out of the Citi Field loudspeakers.
Prior to Wednesday evening, deGrom stood 0-4 with a 2.87 ERA over ten starts against the Dodgers in his career. With this in mind, the two-time Cy Young award winner showcased his pitching excellence on the ultimate pedestal. The first 4.1 innings of Wednesday’s affair, deGrom had a no-hitter in progress, delivering five strikeouts on 52 pitches in that span.
Starling Marte sparked the only offense for New York on Wednesday night. Marte catapulted the Mets to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 3rd with an opposite field two-run HR. The 33-year-old, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic has homered in consecutive games on four separate occasions this season.
But, the Los Angeles offense would not go down without a fight. In fact, the Dodgers are the most productive hitting team in all of baseball, especially against right-handed pitching this season. Los Angeles entered Wednesday leading the Majors against right-handers in RBI and tied for the lead in batting average. The versatility within their lineup is a gauntlet for opposing pitchers.
In the top of the fifth, Justin Turner took advantage of a 1-0 slider for a single to break up deGroms no-hit bid. In the following inning, Mookie Betts slammed a 0-1 slider for a solo-shot to left-center field, marking his 32nd of the season, which tied his career high with 33 games remaining.
Regardless, deGrom continued to solidify his command on Dodgers hitters with a breeze of sliders and four-seam fastballs. He finished his sensational outing allowing one earned run, three hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings pitched.
“We kind of just beat him to it… it was the threshold he had gotten to for the first time this year,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said when asked about deGrom going further than the 7th.
Brandon Nimmo saved the night in the top of the 7th, robbing J. Turner of a game-tying solo HR. A leaping Nimmo made a miraculous snag colliding into the centerfield fence as the stadium erupted in awe. “I’m still really ecstatic about it. It was one of the best plays I ever made,” said Nimmo. “That was probably number one, I can’t really think of one in a bigger situation that’s better right now.”
To close the door on a potential Dodgers comeback, Edwin Díaz entered the 9th inning with the famous theme song “Narco” blasting through Citi Field in live action. Timmy Trumpet performed “Narco” on the third base side as Díaz trotted to the mound. He explained during the postgame how Timmy Trumpet performing live gave him an extra energy boost.
“It was pretty fun. I can feel the vibe from the fans. It was really exciting,” Díaz said. “Everybody was getting into it.”
All in all, the Mets won 2-1 as deGrom added more to the record books. The right-hander has recorded 37 consecutive starts of allowing three earned runs or fewer. Jim Scott in 1913-1914 and Ray Washburn in 1968-1970 are the only two other pitchers in MLB history to have accomplished the legendary feat. Uniquely enough, deGrom is the only pitcher in MLB history to record 50 or more strikeouts and a 0.55 WHIP in their first six starts of a given season.
In the middle of a playoff-intense crowd in Queens, deGrom delivered in pristine fashion. “The guys did a great job. I had good defense behind me tonight, so I’m thankful for that,” deGrom said.
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Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
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