The runaway Atlanta Braves offense finally met its match.
All it took was a Cy Young Award winner who flashed perhaps his best stuff of the season.
New York’s Jacob deGrom, voted the National League’s best pitcher in 2018, was at it again. He dominated the Braves’ bats – the same ones that had produced 27 runs over the two previous games – for 8 1/3 innings and the Mets won 10-2 to even the series at a game apiece.
“That was from another planet,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker.
DeGrom appeared headed for his second career shutout until Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson hit back-to-back solo homers in the ninth. That ended deGrom’s night at 113 pitches and left him two outs shy of his fourth career complete game. Robert Gsellman entered to strike out the final two batters and close the game.
“That was probably about the best I’ve seen (deGrom),” Snitker said. “It was kind of amazing.”
DeGrom (4-6) pounded the strike zone with a series of fastballs, sliders and changeups that kept the Braves off stride all night. After Dansby Swanson’s double in the first, deGrom retired 10 straight batters until Donaldson was able to bloop a single into right field. It had no effect on deGrom, who set down 10 more in a row until hitting Austin Riley with a pitch in the eighth.
“That was Jacob deGrom to a tee right there,” Freeman said. “He’s the best pitcher in baseball and he showed it tonight again.”
DeGrom allowed five hits and struck out 10, his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the season and 36th of his career. He also moved past Al Leiter and into seventh place on the club’s all-time strikeout list with 1,112. He lowered his career ERA against the Braves to 1.88 in 19 starts.
“He was still throwing 97-98 in the seventh inning, 95 pitches in,” Freeman said. “He had a little something tonight and, unfortunately for us, he shut us down. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. It’s going to happen.”
It was bad timing for Julio Teheran (5-5), who suffered through his worst start of the season. Teheran had trouble locating his slider, which he couldn’t throw for strikes nor get close enough to get the Mets to chase. The result was four innings – his shortest outing of the season – and a season-high six runs and eight hits.
The biggest antagonist was rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, who had the first four-hit game of his career. He had three hits against Teheran – a pair of doubles and a two-run opposite-fielder homer that traveled 426 feet. It was the first homer Teheran had allowed since April 30, ending a streak of 48 2/3 homerless innings.
Alonso’s 24th homer leaves him only two shy of setting the club’s rookie record set by Darryl Strawberry in 1983.
“He’s a big strong kid,” Snitker said. “Not just a masher. He’s a big, strong guy, but he’s a good hitter. He can cover the plate … very impressive kid.”
The Atlanta offense, which had produced 90 runs over the last 11 games, could not keep pace on the cool, sometimes rainy night. The only spark came in the ninth inning.
Freeman’s homer was his 20th, his fourth straight year to reach that milestone and the most he’s produced prior to the All-Star break.
Donaldson extended his hitting streak to eight games, tying his season high. He is hitting .389 with five homers during that streak. He has 13 homers and gave the team back-to-back homers for the eighth time, three short of matching the franchise record.
But the late fireworks mattered little against deGrom.
“We couldn’t hit tonight,” Freeman said. “Unfortunately we didn’t miss him (in the rotation) this time around and we don’t miss him next time around. Hopefully he’s not as good.”
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