The most beautiful at-bat in the Washington Nationals’ 6-0 steamrolling by Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets on Friday night came with one out in the eighth and the Mets ahead 4-0, when Yan Gomes launched a lazy fly ball to left for the second out.
As soon as the ball settled into Brandon Nimmo’s glove, a certain segment of Nats’ fandom might have actually breathed a sigh of relief.
What’s so relieving about being one out closer to being shut out?
When it’s not a strikeout, that’s what’s so relieving.
Jacob deGrom, 92mph Slider (home plate view).— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 24, 2021
"Luck into a Home Run" pic.twitter.com/iu1a5lsQNF
Especially when it’s a non-strikeout that denies a two-time defending Cy Young Award winner on a division rival another page in the history books, one that belongs to a National.
“He was locating everything, kept the ball down for the most part,” said Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez of deGrom’s outing afterward.
“You try to get the ball up in the zone,” he continued. “(but) when he’s throwing 100 mph, throwing 93 mph sliders, 91 mph changeups, and throwing them for strikes, it’s going to be tough.”
deGrom was mowing down Nats’ batters from the start, with the first two batters of the night, Andrew Stevenson and Josh Harrison, his first victims. By the time’ the Mets’ right-hander had finished seven innings with 15 strikeouts, the first person many Nats’ fans thought about was Max Scherzer.
Jacob deGrom, 13th, 14th and 15th Ks.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 24, 2021
New Career High. pic.twitter.com/iMdz37FgAI
Washington’s ace wasn't on the mound, but something of his did figure into this game — the record of 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game that Scherzer shares with Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Kerry Wood.
As Mets’ fans waved their “deGrominator” signs following strikeouts of the side in the sixth and seventh innings, they knew that if he did it again in the eighth and the ninth – six more strikeouts — deGrom would break one of Scherzer’s and the Nats’ proudest marks.
But when Starlin Castro made weak contact, and grounded out to deGrom, himself, to start the eighth it delivered the message that he was not going to have a record to himself this game. Gomes followed with a good enough look at a slider to hit it in the air to at least slam the strikeout-record book shut for the night.
Yadiel Hernández, Stevenson, and Harrison all put the ball in play in the ninth inning, so deGrom did not come close to Scherzer’s shared record.
He had to settle for a complete-game, two-hit, 15-strikeout, no-walk day at the office.
Yeah, Jacob deGrom was awesome against the Nats on Friday night, but he wasn’t record-breaking awesome. Just oh-well-we-got-embarrassed-by-the-best-pitcher-in-the-game-right-now awesome.
“You go out there, you give it your best,” said Martinez.
“The biggest thing is to forget about tonight, let’s come back tomorrow and get ready. We’ve got another good pitcher out there in (Marcus) Stroman.”