Jacob deGrom different pitcher after glove-throwing incident

Every hit off Jacob deGrom these days sparks a “How did he do that?” reaction.

But to drill a 100 mph fastball off the edge of the outside corner of the plate for an opposite-field home run like the Braves’ Austin Riley did Thursday night against deGrom? That is more than a head-scratcher. It’s a glove-thrower, which is how deGrom reacted when he returned to the dugout after stunningly allowing three runs in the first inning of what became a 4-3 loss in Atlanta.

“I was really frustrated,” deGrom said, referencing between-innings conversations with catcher James McCann and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. “I said to James, ‘How did he hit that?’ I felt like I made my pitch and he was able to get a bat to it and hit it over the fence. I’ve got to tip my cap to him.”

DeGrom throwing up zero after zero in inning after inning feels like old hat at the midpoint of a potential third Cy Young Award-winning season. But how would he rebound from rare adversity? Did he still remember how to get off the mat from a punch?

Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom
Getty Images

DeGrom answered those questions by ringing up 14 strikeouts — eight in a row at one point — and retiring the final 18 batters he faced. It was dominance delayed — but not good enough in deGrom’s eyes.

“I said to Hef, ‘That’s all they get,’ ” deGrom said. “I had to turn the page.”

When Ehire Adrianza turned deGrom’s second pitch into a triple after replay reversed an incorrect “out” call at third base, it snapped a streak of 37 consecutive batters retired in the first inning by deGrom. That was the longest streak of its kind in 90 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

It got stranger from there as deGrom allowed a one-out RBI single to Ozzie Albies and that two-run home run to Riley. Four batters into the bottom of the first, the Mets trailed 3-1 and deGrom’s miniscule ERA had jumped from 0.69 to 1.03.

“I feel like the mistake I made was to Albies there,” deGrom said.

The Braves started the second with a double and a single: Two runners in scoring position with no outs and a chance to blow the game open and possibly knock out deGrom when the pitching-depleted Mets desperately needed length. What in the world was happening?

“If he gives up a run, he can get very mad with himself because he’s very competitive,” manager Luis Rojas said. “That got him rattled a little bit, but when he got his poise back he was who we know he is: The best pitcher in the game no doubt.”

The overpowering ace turned to his slider and struck out three straight batters to strand the second-inning runners. He didn’t allow another baserunner — nice plays by shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Luis Guillorme helped the cause — and needed just 93 pitches to get through seven walk-free innings.

“I noticed they were trying to hunt the fastball,” deGrom said. “I try to read swings. I tried to make an adjustment and get them off the fastball, which helped me later in the game.

DeGrom didn’t allow more than one earned run in any of his first 12 starts of the season, including seven scoreless outings. The Phillies broke through for two runs — gasp! — last week and the Braves became the first team to plate three earned runs against deGrom since the Nationals on Sept. 26, 2020.

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