Jacob deGrom Blames Himself as the Mets Lose to the Dodgers in a Team Effort
At times during this dismal Mets season, Jacob deGrom has seemed like a man apart. While the team has floundered around him, deGrom has pitched as well as anyone in baseball. Much of his work, of course, has gone unrewarded, mostly because of poor offense.
If anyone on the Mets had cause to look around in exasperation, it would be deGrom, whose 1.69 earned run average is the best in the National League, even if he only has five wins to show for it.
But publicly, deGrom has held any distress in check — until Saturday, when it appeared to leak out with some uncharacteristic body language. He was indeed frustrated at another loss, this one an 8-3 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers. But his dismay was pointed inward, at himself.
In the midst of what is shaping up as a Cy Young Award-caliber season — never mind the low number of wins — deGrom chastised himself for his inability to control his pitches. He kicked the mound after one pitch. He jawed at the home plate umpire, Ed Hickox. He flailed his arm after letting one pitch go, but none of it was about the overall Mets experience of 2018, he said.
“I think it was just me,” deGrom said.
But the problem on Saturday was not completely about him. The Mets’ bullpen gave up five more runs, including a grand slam by Matt Kemp in the eighth inning. Defensively the team was not sharp and offensively it was inept, stranding runners at third base in the fifth and seventh innings.
In the fifth, the Mets had runners at second and third and nobody out, but Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores struck out and Michael Conforto grounded out. Then in the seventh, Brandon Nimmo hit a one-out triple, and Todd Frazier and Cabrera stranded him as the fans unleashed loud boos.
Many of them, and a good number of Dodgers partisans, had come expecting to see a great pitching duel between deGrom and Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers ace who made his return from the disabled list with three imperfect innings.
Because of two injuries, Kershaw was making only his ninth start of the season and his second since May 1. He was first sent to the disabled list on May 6 with tendinitis in the left biceps. He was recalled on May 31 and pitched decently against the Philadelphia Phillies that day, but he suffered a lower back strain and returned to the disabled list. Kershaw has a history of back pain and has gone to the D.L. for it in each of the last three seasons.
DeGrom needed 112 pitches to get through six innings, and he allowed three runs, including a first-inning home run to Max Muncy. It was the first time deGrom had given up three earned runs in a game since April 16, and his record fell to 5-3.
“You’re trying to get big league hitters out with a pitch you don’t really know where it’s going,” he said, “and the other ones were garbage. So it just wasn’t very good tonight.”
DeGrom even acknowledged that Hickox deserved credit. After the fourth inning, deGrom appeared to argue with the umpire about a pitch, but he said he had merely asked if the pitch had really missed the strike zone. After looking at it on video between innings, deGrom conceded that the umpire had made the right call.
“He was right,” the pitcher said.
DeGrom has been the subject of trade speculation, considering that the Mets are doing so poorly. They began the season 11-1, but with Saturday’s loss they fell to 12 games under .500, at 31-43. Sandy Alderson, the general manager, said before Friday’s game that the team needed to improve quickly or it would consider trading assets before the July 31 trade deadline.
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