Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, the reigning Cy Young winner, began this season about as well as you could, as he won on opening day in Washington and in his second start last Wednesday at Miami, he notched a career-high 14 strikeouts and hit a home run.
In addition, deGrom threw 13 innings without allowing a run to start the season, and extend his career-high scoreless streak to 26 innings.
Manager Mickey Callaway said of deGrom possibly being harder to hit this season, “It seems like it so far. You know, the thing that you can’t ever underestimate is, when he was pitching last year, he was not a Cy Young winner. All of a sudden, you’re a Cy Young winner, you probably feel a little bit better about yourself because of that work that you put in the year before. He definitely looks better to me so far and the velo (velocity) is definitely better, especially on the offspeed pitches. I think he’s – especially the other night (in Miami) with the slider – that’s almost unhittable, that’s ridiculous.
“I think that just getting that extra bit of confidence, and I’ve always thought this about pitching, when you have confidence, you’re going to throw harder. When you don’t and you’re not trusting your stuff, you’re not allowing your body to maximize its potential, and your velo goes down. That’s the first thing I look at when somebody’s velo drops, or somebody’s velo spikes, you know, where are they at mentally, and usually that’s the case. Even before something physically or mechanically, it’s usually the confidence that makes that one- or two-mile difference.”
On Tuesday night against the Twins in his Citi Field debut, deGrom opened the game with a strikeout of Max Kepler, followed by Jorge Polanco laying down a bunt for a hit. That moment showed that this could be a different night.
Willians Astudillo then fly out to right, followed by a long drive from Eddie Rosario to the warning track in center field to end the inning.
If the first inning was a sign this could be a different night for deGrom, the second inning confirmed it.
Mitch Garver launched one to center field that hit the black wall just behind the fence, over the orange line, for a home run to make it 1-0 Minnesota.
The Mets tied it in the bottom of the second when Michael Conforto doubled and scored when Amed Rosario hit a double of his own to bring him home.
In the third inning, the Twins picked up right where they left off. With one out, Polanco tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Astudillo followed with a single, and he came in on a two-run homer for Rosario. That was immediately followed by a Garver solo home run to make it 5-1.
The Mets got two of them back in the bottom of the third when Brandon Nimmo got his first home run of the season, followed by a solo shot for Conforto, his third homer of the season.
In the Minnesota fourth, Byron Buxton opened the inning with a double, and he came around to score on a single from Kepler to make it 6-3.
That was all for deGrom, who allowed six runs (all earned) on eight hits, which included three home runs, and a walk, with three strikeouts. This proves correct the adage that even the greats can have an off night here and there.
In the sixth, with Seth Lugo on for the Mets, Jonathan Schoop launched a solo homer to make it 7-3 Twins.
The Mets got a run back in the seventh when Pete Alonso hit a solo homer, his fourth of the season, to make it 7-4.
The Twins put it away in the eighth against Mets reliever Robert Gsellman when Buxton scored on an error by Alonso, followed by a two-run homer for Polanco to make it 10-4.
In the ninth, the Mets turned to starter Jason Vargas to finish it up, and he allowed four runs, with three of them coming on a home run for Schoop, his second of the night, which made it 14-4.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets mounted a rally against Chase De Jong.
Alonso hit a two-run shot to left center that made it 14-6. This was his fifth of the season and the first multi-homer game of his career. They added a pair when Jeff McNeil then worked out a bases-loaded walk and a run came in on a fielder’s choice by Travis d’Arnaud that made it 14-8.