Sometimes exactly what you expected ends up being precisely what you get. Jacob deGrom took the mound Wednesday and did what he normally does, leading the Mets to a closely contested 2-1 win over the Dodgers to tie up this series in New York.
The Dodgers have had more than their fair share of games against the cream of the crop when it comes to starting pitching, a couple each against reigning NL Cy Young Corbin Burnes, and this year’s favorite in Sandy Alcantara, all within the last month. And in two of those four occasions, the offense had its way, putting up a crooked number at home against those two elite hurlers.
With all due respect that both Burnes and Alcantara deserve, the challenge in tonight’s game was simply on another level. The best offense in the major leagues went up against deGrom, who may not be the reigning Cy Young, may not be in the running this year, but is undeniably peerless in the current game.
The Dodgers have a long track record against deGrom going back to that 2015 NLDS in which the two-time Cy Young winner beat Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, both in LA to lead the Mets to wins in Games 1 and 5 of that series.
However, it had been since 2019 that deGrom pitched against the Dodgers, and there wasn’t much extraordinary about his outing, at least not for his standards. This just registers as another good deGrom start, but it doesn’t mean we can’t take a step back to appreciate his greatness.
The feeling you get with deGrom on the mound is one of unfairness, surely anything can happen, but you’re always expecting an out. It’s the same sensation that Dodgers’ fans experienced through the elite years of Kershaw.
Very good hitters such as Will Smith and Max Muncy in separate instances worked interesting at-bats, being able to lay off close sliders, but it almost always ended in a victory for deGrom who ultimately left the game with seven innings of one-run ball with nine punch outs.
The Dodgers’ lineup managed three hits, one walk, and the only run against the Mets’ starter came on a Mookie Betts solo shot on a hanging slider, tying his career high with 32 homers, the same number he had in his MVP season in 2019 with the Boston Red Sox.
In a tightly contested affair against an all-time great, any and all breaks that go against your way are all the more crucial to the final result of the game, and in the top of the seventh inning, came the defining moment of tonight’s ball game.
deGrom was struggling a little bit with his command, which for his level basically means he was missing a couple of pitches, and Justin Turner who came into the day with 2 hits in 22 at-bats against him, dropped the head of the barrel on a fastball away and drove it to straightaway center field, Brandon Nimmo in full sprint, leaped over the wall to prevent the Dodgers from tying the game.
Truly one of the more remarkable catches of the year.
On the other side of the mound, Tyler Anderson had by all accounts a very good night, and one he should be proud, but like everything in this game, it goes back to the context of going up against the best in the business, and Anderson’s seven quality innings weren’t quite enough.
The Mets got to him for a pair of runs with a Starling Marte two-run shot in the third inning, and that was all the scoring they did against him on the night. Anderson pitched with traffic, allowing a total of eight hits, but managed to get out of it for the most part.
Home runs: Mookie Betts (32); Starling Marte (16)
WP — Jacob deGrom (4-1): 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 ER, 9 strikeouts
LP — Tyler Anderson (13-3): 7 IP, 8 hits, 2 ER, 3 strikeouts
SV — Edwin Diaz (29): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
Clayton Kershaw returns from the injured list to face Chris Bassit in the series finale against the Mets. It will be an early start for the rubber match (1:10 p.m. PT; SportsNet LA, MLB Network).