Jacob deGrom ended one streak Monday and continued another.
Most importantly to the Mets, for the first time in three starts their ace finished his performance without some kind of discomfort. On another front, deGrom extended his scoreless streak to 30 innings since May 25.
DeGrom’s dominance over five innings carried the Mets to a 4-2 victory over the Braves in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citi Field.
Overall, the right-hander allowed one hit over five innings with six strikeouts and two walks, departing after 70 pitches. DeGrom had departed his previous start against the Cubs after only three innings because of right shoulder discomfort. In the start before that, he exited with right flexor tendinitis after six innings against the Padres.
DeGrom’s latest brilliance lowered his mind-blowing ERA to 0.50 and placed him in position to set the Mets record for consecutive scoreless innings in his next start. R.A. Dickey set that mark in 2012, when he pitched 32 ²/₃ consecutive scoreless innings.
Dominic Smith delivered the game’s biggest hit with a bases-loaded double in the fifth that knocked in three runs and gave the Mets a 4-0 lead. That hit loomed larger the next inning when Ozzie Albies smashed a two-run homer against Seth Lugo.
As part of the Mets’ three-run burst in the fifth, Jeff McNeil delivered a pinch-hit single in his first appearance for the team since May 16, when he strained his left hamstring.
The Braves didn’t get their first hit until the fifth, when Kevan Smith was awarded a ground-rule double on a ball that landed between Dominic Smith and Albert Almora Jr. in an obvious miscommunication between the outfielders and bounced over the fence. The bounce was lucky for the Mets in that Guillermo Heredia, who was running from first base with two outs and crossed the plate, got sent back to third base. DeGrom then retired pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval to keep the Mets’ lead at 1-0.
Heredia had walked on four straight pitches with two outs to give the Braves their second base runner.
DeGrom received an initiation to MLB’s crackdown on foreign substances as he left the mound following the final out in the first inning. As he neared the foul line, umpires converged on deGrom and examined his cap and the inside of his belt. The ritual was repeated as Braves pitcher Kyle Muller left the mound following the first inning. DeGrom was again checked after getting the final out in the fifth.
The Mets got a run in the first without the benefit of a hit. Jonathan Villar scored from third on a wild pitch after drawing a leadoff walk and advancing bases on Francisco Lindor’s sacrifice bunt and Smith’s fly out.
Among the questions before the game was whether deGrom would be allowed to swing the bat. Though deGrom entered batting .423, he may have incurred his shoulder discomfort in his previous start on a hard swing and miss. On this day deGrom came to bat in the second and fouled off a bunt attempt before swinging away and flying out to center.