It first happened during that dreadful sweep in Atlanta. Then, the question came up again in Game 1 of the Mets’ Wild Card series against the Padres: where were New York’s star players?
Max Scherzer got shelled and the offense looked completely dead on Friday night at Citi Field. It forced this 101-win team from the regular season to the brink of elimination. Thankfully, Jacob deGrom looked like himself through six innings. The offense initially still had trouble driving in runs, but Buck Showalter’s big bats came through when it was needed most.
Win Probability graph + key moments
In Game 1, the Padres got off to a quick start with a two-run homer from Josh Bell, and they never looked back. It was crucial for New York to keep the Citi Field crowd engaged and loud in Game 2. DeGrom did that with a tremendous first inning that included completely dismantling Juan Soto and Manny Machado.
deGrom just BULLIED Soto and Machado with heaters pic.twitter.com/CYNuyt3gjT
— Shea Station (@shea_station) October 8, 2022
The right-hander lit up the gun at 102 mph in his first postseason start in front of the home crowd. That was immediately followed by a home run from Jose Rey-, I mean, Francisco Lindor in the bottom of the inning:
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 8, 2022
It looked like that might’ve been all deGrom was going to need, but then Trent Grisham struck again with his second homer in two days in the third inning. Things got more complicated with a walk to Jurickson Profar and then a hit from Juan Soto.
DeGrom extinguished this threat by striking out Machado again.
The fifth inning was another huge spot where the game could’ve gotten away from the Mets. With the score tied at two, San Diego had two on with one out and Machado and Bell coming to the plate.
What did the Mets’ ace do? He struck them both out, of course:
Two HUGE strikeouts for deGrom to keep the game tied pic.twitter.com/lfce5ieISM
— Shea Station (@shea_station) October 9, 2022
On the first pitch in the next half inning, New York took a lead thanks to Pete Alonso’s first career postseason dinger. And it was a freakin’ laser:
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) October 9, 2022
Mark Canha worked a 10-pitch walk to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh, giving way to MLB batting champion Jeff McNeil. He made that mistake pay with a two-run double to give the Mets some much-needed insurance.
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 9, 2022
New York added a couple of more runs, and then it was all but a formality from there.
After a September/October Mets fans haven’t been used to seeing from him, deGrom was back to his normal self on Saturday night. He threw 99 pitches across six innings while allowing two runs on five hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts.
Lindor registered his first multi-hit game of the playoffs, but Brandon Nimmo had an incredibly impressive night against left-hander Blake Snell. The outfielder recorded not one, not two, but three opposite-field hits, one of which had an RBI attached to it.
Showalter brought Edwin Diaz into the game for a high-leverage spot in the top of the seventh inning. He held the Padres scoreless through 1.2 innings of work.
Quality at-bats. One of the noticeably frustrating parts of New York’s Game 1 loss was the lack of competitive at-bats. Yu Darvish didn’t hit the 100-pitch mark until the seventh inning. In Game 2, the Mets immediately made Blake Snell work and kept that heat on him until his exit. The southpaw tossed just 3.1 innings and needed to throw 90 pitches to do it.
Big boys produced. New York eventually broke this game open with hits from McNeil and Eduardo Escobar. But before that happened, the centerpieces of the Mets’ offense in Lindor and Alonso energized the lineup and crowd with no-doubt homers. They’re the engine that makes this offense go.
deAce delivered. As we can see above, deGrom started this game hot, blazing four-seam fastballs by opposing hitters left and right. But once he allowed that Grisham homer, he began throwing his slider and changeup much more often. He also didn’t have his usual brisk pace on the mound, so it appeared he wasn’t completely locked in.
Like he has so many times, though, deGrom battled before finishing with a flourish. After getting the lead thanks to Alonso’s homer, he set down the Padres’ side in just nine pitches during a dominant sixth inning to end his night.
Finally getting big hits. While New York was winning in the latter portion of this game, there were so many opportunities to break things open early. But with another chance to create some breathing room in the seventh, the hits started to flow.
With the Mets evening this series up, Chris Bassitt is slated to face Joe Musgrove with a trip to the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the line. The game will be televised on ESPN and first pitch is scheduled for Sunday at 7:07 pm ET.