NEW YORK — Mets ace James of Grom couldn’t help but think about his future on Saturday night. With free agency looming and the San Diego Padres taking Game 1 of the National League Wild Card Series, deGrom said he entered his start in Game 2 knowing that if he didn’t pitch well, it could be the last time he pitched at To quote Field as a Met.
“That entered my mind, but the hope was that we would win a baseball game and keep playing,” deGrom said.
He came through, going six innings and allowing five hits and two runs on two walks with eight strikeouts in a 7-3 Mets win. The win guaranteed deGrom would have at least one more day to don a Mets uniform, Sunday night when the Padres and Mets play Game 3.
DeGrom set the tone early, starting the game by throwing 12 pitches over 99 mph and seven over 100 mph. He retired the top of the Padres’ lineup in order, striking out a slugger Juan Soto and Manny Machado swinging All evening, deGrom relied primarily on his fastball — which topped 100 mph on 19 of his 99 pitches — and slider, throwing his curveball just twice and his changeup six times. Sixty of his pitches were strikes.
The priests scored two runs from deGrom, the first coming on a home run from Trent Grishamhis second in as many nights.
“I have to tip my hat to Trent, that homer, I felt like that was a good pitch, and he just got it,” deGrom said.
The second run came after deGrom walked Grisham to lead off the fifth inning, as a Padres outfielder Jurickson Profar hit a game-tying RBI single down the right-field line. DeGrom threw five consecutive sliders in Profar’s six-pitch hitting streak.
“That’s the one I wish I was a fastball,” deGrom said on the Profar at-bat. “I felt like I had a good feel for it; I just threw too many in a row at him, and he kept one fair.”
DeGrom said he hit a groove in his last inning on the mound.
“Slider was a good, fast ball, actually [Padres first baseman Brandon] Drury, I threw one down and away where I wanted,” deGrom said. “Early on, they were just a little bit off and not quite the height I wanted them to be. I felt like I made an adjustment there, and the sixth inning, I felt the best.”
After deGrom left the game, Mets manager Buck Showalter made an unusual choice to bring in a closer Edwin Diaz in the seventh inning. With Grisham hitting two home runs against the Mets during the first two games of the series, Showalter wanted to challenge the Padres outfielder with the team’s toughest reliever before the top of the San Diego lineup came up in a 3-2 game.
Against Diaz, Grisham grounded out to a priest-catcher Austin How united the middle. Diaz then got Profar and Soto to ground out to end the seventh inning.
Diaz returned for the eighth inning. After getting Machado to the ground, he walked Josh Bell and struck out Jake Cronenworth. Showalter then came to the mound to replace Diaz with a reliever Adam Piccolowho struck out Drury to end the inning.
Showalter said he had no intention of having Diaz pitch three innings and end the game.
“Where they were in the batting order, we had a problem with Grisham. I wasn’t planning on pitching a third inning with him,” Showalter said of Diaz. “There were things that would have changed that; if he had two eight-pitch innings, I would have thought about it.”
Diaz asked to stay in the contest to finish off Drury, but Showalter said he needs him to be available for Game 3 on Sunday.
“I felt great. I thought I could get Drury out, but he told me he needs me tomorrow and this is enough for today,” Diaz said. “So, I said let’s win the game tomorrow.”