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Jacob deGrom masterclass, Pete Alonso bomb lifts Mets over Rockies for 80th win of season

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Jacob deGrom Mets Rockies
New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Two of the most important Mets did exactly what they needed to do on the first day of a slight reprieve in the team’s schedule on Thursday night at Citi Field. 

Jacob deGrom spun a prototypical gem as he ramps back up toward 100% — or as close as he can get at this point of the season — and Pete Alonso mashed his 31st home run of the season as the Mets took the opener of a four-game set against the Colorado Rockies, 3-1.

With the second-place Atlanta Braves off on Thursday night, the win allowed the Mets (80-46) to gain a half-game in their NL East lead, expanding it to two games. It’s also the second-fewest number of games (126) needed in franchise history for the Mets to reach the 80-win mark. Only the 1986 champions did so quicker (121 games).

After throwing 95 pitches against Atlanta last week, deGrom threw 87 pitches over six innings, allowing one run on just three hits with nine strikeouts and a walk as the Mets continue to stretch him out.

Through five starts this season, he owns a 2.15 ERA.

“I feel good,” deGrom said. “What did I end with tonight, 87 [pitches]? The next one they’ll let me go however long, 100-plus.”

He came right out of the gates with extra rest looking as dominant as ever, setting the first 13 batters he faced down in order with seven strikeouts.

The 34-year-old struck out three in a row between the first and second innings alone before punching out four of six between the third — where he first unleashed his curveball — and fourth frames. 

“Sometimes guys who get a little extra rest are not quite as crisp command-wise,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “But he was the difference in the game. The start he gave us was solid.”

Normally, run support is scarce for deGrom but that wasn’t the case on Thursday as New York broke through for three in the third inning —  which probably seemed like a king’s ransom for the ace. Francisco Lindor drove in his 85th run of the season with a groundout before Alonso launched his 31st home run of the season on a 3-0 pitch — a two-run shot that supplied him with RBI Nos. 103 and 104 on the season. 

The moonshot was also the 137th of his career, tying him with Joe DiMaggio for the fifth-most round-trippers in MLB history through a player’s first four seasons.

“That’s what you do with a 3-0 pitch when you get a green light like that,” Showalter said of Alonso, who went 2-for-4 for a second-straight game after snapping his bat in frustration during a slump Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. “Pete has spoiled us at such a high level that when he has a period when he’s not doing the things that we know he’s capable of, he takes on the microscope. He feels awful when he doesn’t always deliver and that’s hard for him to do. I think everybody felt good for him tonight because I know how much it means to him to contribute every night.”

Pete Alonso Mets
New York Mets’ Pete Alonso hits a two-run home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

deGrom wouldn’t yield his first hit of the night until the fifth inning when, with one out, Jose Iglesias’ grounder up the middle was stopped by Lindor, but he couldn’t pop up and get him in time. 

Randal Grichuk, the ensuing batter, ripped a double down the line to put the righty in his first jam of the night. But he bore back down to strike out Sam Hilliard and get Brian Serven to fly out to right.

Ryan McMahon would get the Rockies on the board in the sixth, however, when he took deGrom out of the yard over the right-center-field fence for his 13th home run of the season. deGrom then proceeded to walk Brendan Rodgers — just the second time in 28.2 innings this season that he issued a free pass — before getting out of the frame.

With deGrom getting the hook, reliever Seth Lugo nearly fumbled the Mets’ lead away when he loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but he got the dangerous McMahon swinging to escape and keep the two-run advantage intact.

“It’s not about a pure inning count or pitch count,” Showalter said about pulling deGrom. “You get a lot of feedback from different areas that kind of give us an idea of where we are and the whole idea is that we want to keep all our pitchers around and healthy. Not just Jake.”

deGrom himself admitted that he would prefer to start an inning he could finish rather than face a batter or two before leaving.

“Where are you pushing it too much?” deGrom asked. “I think that’s the kind of feel thing there. For me, I like having a chance to complete the inning. When you have eight pitches to work with, that’s pretty tough to do. Being around that same spot a couple times — next time hopefully I can go out there for 100 plus.”

An inability from Alonso and Daniel Vogelbach to find insurance with two runners on in the eighth prompted Showalter to call on closer Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the frame to hold the lead, which he did. Though a 16-pitch frame that included a walk and a hit took him out of the running for the ninth, Adam Ottavino set Colorado down in order to close things out. 

For more on the Mets, visit AMNY.com