NEW YORK (AP) — Jacob deGrom put Mets fans at ease with a bevy of triple-digit heaters.
Hopefully clear of the arm woes that interrupted his past two starts, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is back to dominating hitters — and the record books.
DeGrom shouldered the load for New York in his return from another injury scare, pitching one-hit ball over five scoreless innings as the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 Monday to open a doubleheader.
Braves closer Will Smith loaded the bases in the nightcap’s seventh inning but escaped for his 14th save in a 1-0 win. Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 20th homer, and Ian Anderson became the first native New Yorker to beat the Mets and Yankees in New York in the same season.
DeGrom didn’t allow a hit in the seven-inning opener until Mets outfielders misplayed a fly ball with two outs in the fifth, letting it fall for a ground-rule double. DeGrom threw 70 pitches, 15 of them over 100 mph, with two walks and six strikeouts.
“Felt good,” deGrom said. “I think that’s why we decided at that 70-pitch mark to say that was enough, didn’t want to overdo it.”
Jeff McNeil came off the injured list and singled as a pinch-hitter for deGrom (7-2) during New York’s three-run fifth inning. He scored on Dominic Smith’s three-run double.
Ozzie Albies hit a two-run homer off Seth Lugo in Game 1 for the Braves, who had won three of four but were playing their second doubleheader in two days — they also split that one, winning the nightcap against St. Louis 1-0 on a homer by Acuña.
Left-hander Kyle Muller (0-1) pitched one-hit ball over four innings in the opener, leaving with a 1-0 deficit in his first big league start.
“He threw the ball extremely well,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Had a good breaking ball, kept his composure, everything was really good.”
Mets closer Edwin Díaz finished a two-hitter in Game 1, pitching the seventh for his 15th save in 16 chances.
Mets sparkplug Jonathan Villar left the second game with right calf tightness after leading off the sixth with a double, one of several health-related setbacks for New York. Villar will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
DeGrom has thrown 30 consecutive scoreless innings, 2 2/3 shy of R.A. Dickey’s franchise mark set in 2012.
He topped Hall of Famer Bob Gibson’s record with his 12th consecutive start allowing no more than one run. His 0.50 ERA is the lowest by a pitcher through 12 starts in major league history. Opponents are hitting .113 against him, the lowest average against any pitcher in a 12-game span since at least 1901, with a minimum 70 innings.
Two days after his 33rd birthday, deGrom came out firing in his first start since his previous two outings were cut short by arm trouble. The right-hander was pulled after three perfect innings against the Cubs last Wednesday with shoulder soreness, and he left the outing prior to that June 11 against San Diego with flexor tendinitis in his right arm.
DeGrom has thrown 154 pitches at least 100 mph this season, most in baseball among starting pitchers — Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan was second entering Monday with 14.
“He’s on another level,” Snitker said.
In the second game, Jerad Eickhoff gave New York four scoreless innings in his first big league appearance since June 16, 2019 with Philadelphia, but Miguel Castro (2-2) allowed Acuña’s leadoff shot in the fifth.
Anderson (5-3) pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out five. Raised in Clifton Park, the right-hander became the first native of the state to beat two New York teams in the Big Apple in a season since Philadelphia’s Jim Konstanty and Chicago’s Turk Lown both defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants in 1953.
“It’s always nice to come home and pitch, and I’ve had some good success doing it,” Anderson said.
Smith allowed two hits and a walk with one out in the seventh. Braves third baseman Austin Riley — who made two diving stops in the opener — nearly ended the late game when he dived to catch Kevin Pillar’s liner. Riley sprawled to touch third as Pete Alonso retreated to tag up. Umpires called Alonso out, but that ruling was overturned via replay review.
Brandon Drury popped up to second base for the final out.
The Mets have 13 runs in their last seven games. They threatened in the sixth but Jose Peraza and Francisco Lindor each got thrown out carelessly on the bases.
STICKING TO THE PLAN
DeGrom was the first pitcher inspected as part of Major League Baseball’s crackdown on foreign substances. He passed.
“Honestly, I didn’t mind it,” deGrom said. “It was quick and it went pretty easy.”
Acuña’s homer was measured at 115.7 mph. He also threw out Alonso at third base from right field in the second inning with a throw clocked at 97.3 mph.
“That throw was unbelievable,” Anderson said. “You almost come to expect it now. He can do it all. That home run was one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.”
An MRI revealed that Mets left-hander Joey Lucchesi tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. New York is seeking a second opinion, but Tommy John surgery is a strong possibility.
Acting general manager Zack Scott said last week the Mets would seek upgrades via trade for their top-heavy rotation. Lucchesi’s loss could hasten that search. The 28-year-old was 1-4 with a 4.46 ERA but had a 1.19 ERA in his last five starts.
“It’s a big loss for us,” Rojas said. “A talented young kid that I think is just getting better every time he goes out there.”
Mets starters have a 2.63 ERA, best in the majors.
Mets: McNeil hadn’t played since May 16 because of a left hamstring strain. He was 0 for 3 in Game 2. … C Tomás Nido was hit on the right wrist by a pitch in the opener and was replaced a half-inning later by James McCann. X-rays were negative. … RHP Robert Gsellman was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right lat strain. … RHP Jeurys Familia was added to the 10-day injured list between games with a right hip impingement. … LHP Stephen Tarpley was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse as New York’s 27th man for the twinbill.
Braves: Muller was Atlanta’s 27th man.
Braves RHP Ian Anderson (4-3, 3.58) could become the first New Yorker to beat the Yankees and Mets in the same season when he starts the nightcap. Mets RHP Jerad Eickhoff will start for his first appearance this season.