The stat read like something out of a youth league game: 19 outs, 17 by strikeout.
That was what Mets pitchers Jacob deGrom and Edwin Diaz did to Rockies hitters over the final 6 1/3 innings of the teams’ doubleheader opener Saturday in Denver. DeGrom fanned nine consecutive hitters in the middle innings, one shy of tying Mets icon Tom Seaver’s 51-year-old MLB record. New York’s current ace tied his career-high with 14 Ks over six innings, giving him 35 total in 20 innings this season.
“Well, that would have been nice to reach,” deGrom said of almost tying Seaver (per MLB.com). “But I fell a little short.”
Diaz came on for the save in the bottom of the seventh after the Mets rallied to take the lead in the top half. He struck out the side to preserve a 4-3 victory.
DeGrom and Diaz were going up against a team that was in the middle of the pack in the National League when it comes to striking out; Colorado entered Game 1 averaging 9.0 Ks per game. All nine hitters in the Rockies’ starting lineup struck out at least once. Sam Hilliard fanned in all three of his at-bats.
“The guys were just out there getting to their positions with no balls in play, like just running in and out of their dugout for three innings,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said of deGrom’s strikeout streak, also per MLB.com.
But the Rockies still managed to put the ball in play enough to score on deGrom. Raimel Tapia homered, Dom Nunez tripled and Charlie Blackmon doubled. There were also three fly-ball outs, an infield popout and a ground ball that Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil threw away for an error — which made all three Rockies runs unearned.
Maybe it was for the best, then, that DeGrom and Diaz were the Mets’ primary defensive players in this game.