LOS ANGELES - Jacob deGrom signaled the Mets' return to playoff baseball Friday night, delivering one of the greatest pitching performances in franchise history in a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
In seven shutout innings, deGrom struck out 13 Dodgers, tying the franchise record with Tom Seaver, who accomplished the feat in the opening game of 1973 National League Championship Series.
Daniel Murphy homered and David Wright ripped a two-run single to give the Mets a 3-0 lead after the Mets chased Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning.
But it was deGrom who took care of the rest. He allowed five hits, though two came on misplays by leftfielder Michael Cuddyer. DeGrom walked just one, though it was intentional.
He threw 121 pitches, the second-highest tally of his career. But his dominance made it easy for the Mets to strongly consider bringing him back on short rest if they have their backs against the wall in a potential Game 4.
Indeed, a sellout crowd of 54,428 at Dodger Stadium watched the Mets win their first postseason game since 2006.
At first pitch, the Mets crammed onto the top step and leaned on the railing, savoring a moment nine years in the making. They made the most of it.
For the first time in the history of the postseason, both starting pitchers logged at least 11 strikeouts. Kershaw was no picnic. But he was charged for three runs in 6 1/3 innings. Despite 11 strikeouts, he lost his fifth straight postseason start. He entered the game with a 5.12 ERA in 11 playoff appearances.
Meanwhile, deGrom dominated his first-ever postseason start. His fastball roared at 98 mph while his sliders nicked the plate at 93. The Dodgers found themselves helpless.
Jeurys Familia picked up the save, recording the final five outs of the game after Tyler Clippard allowed the Dodgers' only run in the eighth on an Adrian Gonzalez RBI single.
With the victory, the Mets assured themselves of at least a split, and they did so by remaining true to themselves.
The Mets preach a disciplined style of hitting. From the top of the organization on down, players are judged on their ability to swing only at pitches they can hit hard. The philosophy centers on getting starting pitchers to run up their pitch counts, thus making it easier to knock them out of games.
At Citi Field, on a bulletin board behind the clubhouse, the Mets display a quote from Zack Greinke, who will start for the Dodgers Saturday night in NLDS Game 2. After a start last season, he called the Mets' lineup one of the toughest he faced all season.
Collins uses the quote as positive reinforcement. And he harped on this point, both during Thursday's workout and before Friday night's game, reminding his players that discipline might help with the monumental challenge of facing Kershaw.
"Stay with the program," Collins said before the game. "You've got to make these guys work."
The Mets were listening. Wright set the tone early, working a 12-pitch at-bat that forced Kershaw to expend 20 pitches in the first.
Murphy's solo shot came on a fastball over the plate, an opportunity he created for himself by working the count to 2-and-0.
By the seventh, the Mets' only run had come on Murphy's big swing. But Kershaw appeared to tire, his command escaping him. Of the four walks he issued, three came in the seventh to load the bases.
The last came against Granderson. Kershaw looked to the heavens, dropped his shoulders, then watched as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pulled him for Baez.
Kershaw, who threw 113 pitches, watched in anguish from the dugout as Wright lined a 98-mph fastball over the head of second baseman Howie Kendrick for a two-run single. With that, the Mets seized a 3-0 lead and control of the game.