The only person who could reach Jacob deGrom on Wednesday was arguably the best player in the National League. The game of the night, however, came from one of the most underrated players on the circuit.
In the Mets’ 2-1 win over the Dodgers, the only Dodger run came on a solo home run by Mookie Betts in the sixth. Everyone else in the Dodgers lineup went 2-for-24 against the two-time Cy Young winner. He struck out nine batters and walked one, with the only two non-Betts hits coming on scrappy singles. There would be one more, very crushing hit, but some of the best outfield defense you’ll ever see prevented that from happening.
Perhaps most encouragingly, the Mets kept DeGrom in for seven full innings, the first time this season he’s struck out 21 in a game.
“Tonight against the Dodgers, that was a great atmosphere,” deGrom said, noting once again that after coming off a new season high, his arm felt good. “The fans were into it the whole time, and that makes it a lot of fun. You’re playing important baseball.”
One of these outings, however, stands far, far above the rest.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh inning, deGrom’s 0-1 fastball to Justin Turner pretty much caught the plate. He said after the game that the pitch was meant to be down in the strike zone and missed its target. Turner whistled a line drive that went over the center field wall that would have sent the rabid Citi Field crowd into a frenzy. Instead, they let out a joyful shriek in unison when Brandon Nimmo jumped the wall and returned with the catch of his life.
“I knew he got a good hit off the bat,” Nimmo said. “My concern was just getting back to the fence as quickly as I could. But it was hit on a line, so I didn’t have time to look back at the wall. Fortunately, from playing a lot out there now, I felt like I was close to the wall and I had to go ahead and jump.”
“What a game,” Buck Showalter said. “When you look at minor leaguers, one of the questions I ask is, ‘Can they turn hits into strikeouts?’ I never ask if they can turn the house into outlets. Maybe you should. I don’t have much to compare it to.”
In the space of about five seconds, Nimmo saved the lead, deGrom’s chance to win and the crowd’s energy while showing the most emotion on the field of his career. The arrest sent Nimmo into relative hysteria, screaming, punching and hitting his co-workers. Watching from the mound, deGrom appeared to be in disbelief, throwing his hands to the heavens while a “I can’t believe that happened” look invaded his face.
Nimmo was asked what led him to show so much emotion after the game.
“That had a playoff feel to it,” Nimmo said. “These are two very good teams going into this. Every little thing matters in these games. The highlight of the atmosphere, the teams playing and how important these games become.”
As Nimmo continues to have the best all-around season of his career on the eve of his winter free agency, the center fielder now has a game to lead into the 2022 season. Any questions about whether he can hack it as a long-term option in center field they should turn to in this game, in which a perfect combination of speed, ball drive and defensive ability combined for an iconic moment of this Mets season. .
“The timing was right and everything worked out perfectly,” said Nimmo, who called it the best catch of his career.
The offense didn’t do much, but Starling Marte’s two-run homer was enough to get them close to the finish line, and deGrom, Nimmo and the bullpen got them through. Adam Ottavino was spectacular in one inning of work, striking out Joey Gallo, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts to complete the eighth inning. Ottavino’s 1-2-3 mastery of the Dodgers kept the leadoff hitter from coming to the plate and also set up another electric moment.
With the Mets’ lead going into the ninth inning, Showalter brought in Edwin Diaz for the first time since Friday. More importantly, this meant that Timmy Trumpet could play Diaz. As the dominant made his excursion from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound, Timmy Trumpet played a live rendition of his earworm riff from “Narco,” which accompanied Diaz on the mound. the whole season.
“It was a lot of fun,” Diaz said. “I tried to look up a bit when I was running to see the reaction of the fans. I could feel the atmosphere from the fans. It was really exciting.”
Hearing it from Trumpet himself, rather than the stadium’s PA system, seemed to make Diaz even harder to hit.
Trea Turner was his first victim, striking out on three pitches. Then it was time for Freddie Freeman to bite the dust. He landed safely at second base. Will Smith made the final out with a single in the third. Good morning, good morning, good night, and don’t forget to tip the trumpeter.