Jacob deGrom tells Brandon Nimmo before every game that he and his teammates need to play good defense behind him.
Nimmo finally got the chance to do just that on Wednesday night at Citi Field.
The Mets’ center fielder made a game-saving, home-run robbing, leaping catch at the wall to deny Justin Turner of a game-tying home run in the seventh inning to ultimately preserve a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With one out in the seventh inning and deGrom showing signs of slowing down, Turner socked a 104-mph liner to the deepest part of the ballpark in the right-center-field alley, leaving little time for Nimmo to get to the wall let alone make the leaping catch with his hand over the wall to make the play.
“I knew it was hit well and so my concern was just getting back to the fence as quick as I could,” Nimmo said. “It was hit on a line so I didn’t get a chance to look back at the wall so I kind of had a feeling that I was near the wall so I needd to go ahead and jump. The timing was right on it and everything worked out just perfectly, felt the ball hit the glove, and I knew it didn’t bounce out once it got in there.
“And then all the emotions spilled out. Big moment in the game… that helped us to win so I was pretty happy about that.”
BRANDON NIMMO STEALS A HOME RUN FROM JUSTIN TURNER!!! pic.twitter.com/ozPc89gRX6
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 1, 2022
Big emotions indeed. Nimmo’s heroics fueled the Mets (83-48) to hold on to their slim lead over the MLB-leading Dodgers (90-39) while preserving a win for deGrom —who went a season-high seven innings on 93 pitches and was brilliant once again with one run allowed on three hits to go with nine strikeouts. It lowered his 2022 season ERA to 1.98.
“Tonight felt good. It felt like everything was where I wanted it,” deGrom said. “I made a little bit of a mechanical adjustment from last start to this start and felt that everything was in line. Made a few mistakes but the outfield did a nice job catching a few fly balls.”
Starling Marte got deGrom and the Mets their pair of runs in the third inning when — after striking out on three pitches in his first at-bat — launched a two-out, two-run home run to put the Mets ahead. It was the only blemish of Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson’s night, who entered Wednesday with a 13-2 record.
Marte’s mash was his 16th of the season and his second in as many nights as the Mets returned to their M.O. of timely two-out hitting. After Eduardo Escobar and Tomas Nido made the first two outs of the frame in succession, Nimmo sparked the rally with a single.
deGrom had been cruising through the first half of the night, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Turner broke it up with a one-out single.
Things got a bit tougher for him in the sixth, though — a trend of showing some signs of slowing down the deeper he gets into the game this season. The Dodgers halved their deficit as Mookie Betts launched a career-high-tying 32nd home run of the season into the left-field seats. It was the third home allowed by deGrom this season in an inning he needed a game-high 19 pitches to get through; raising his night’s total to 80.
Turner made one last bid to haunt his old team even further with one out in the seventh when he rocked a deGrom offering to center field, but Nimmo was there to save the day.
It even coaxed a reaction from the usually-reserved deGrom, who raised his arms in delight before doffing his cap to his center fielder.
“He’s done a great job,” deGrom said. “He’s been fun to watch. He’s done a great job out there. He continues to put the work in… You look back there and he seems to be in the right position every time. I’ve been comfortable pitching out there with him.”
If Citi Field wasn’t in enough of a tizzy already, deGrom struck out Lux for his ninth punchout of the night to end the frame.
“I did see Jake kind of take it another level with [Lux],” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “But Jake was the difference in that game… We knew runs were going to be at a premium.”
Following a clean eighth inning from Adam Ottavino, closer Edwin Diaz finally got his moment to be serenaded live by Timmy Trumpet as he entered for the save opportunity in the ninth. He proceeded to set the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup down in order to pick up his 29th save of the season.