DeGrom strikes out 9 in row as Mets split with Rockies

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Jacob deGrom

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom watches a throw to Colorado Rockies’ C.J. Cron during the fourth inning of the first baseball game game of a doubleheader Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Jacob deGrom struck out nine straight batters against Colorado on Saturday, falling one shy of matching Tom Seaver’s major league record.

He fell short of the record and nearly missed a win.

DeGrom finished with 14 strikeouts to lead the New York Mets over the Rockies 4-3 in a doubleheader opener.

German Márquez pitched a two-hitter for his second career complete as the Rockies won the nightcap 7-2, stopping a seven-game losing streak and the Mets’ four-game winning streak. Josh Fuentes broke open the game with a three-run homer in the fifth off Jacob Barnes.

DeGrom, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, wound up with a win when trailing at his final pitch, just the third time that has happened and the first since 2015.

Seaver set the consecutive strikeouts record against San Diego on April 22, 1970, fanning his final 10 batters in a 19-strikeout performance.

“That would have been nice to reach but fell a little short,” deGrom said with a smile.

Coming off a 14-strikeout performance in a 3-0 loss to Philadelphia, deGrom became just the ninth pitcher to strike out as many as nine in a row.

“The fastball was the best weapon for him,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “It’s special. You don’t see that often. You talk about Jake getting better every year and he goes out there, and we talked about the challenge of the weather, so it’s a little bit of a different start. He makes an adjustment and does something special.”

The streak ended in the fifth inning, when the Rockies took a 3-1 lead with three unearned runs, but the Mets rallied to win a series opener delayed a day by snow when pinch-hitter Jonathan Villar hit a tying double off Daniel Bard (0-1) in the seventh inning and Dominic Smith had a sacrifice fly.

Pete Alonso had homered in the sixth to pull the Mets within a run.

By winning the opener of a doubleheader of seven-inning games under coronavirus protocols, the Mets extended a winning streak to four for the first time since 2019. Joey Lucchesi (0-1) allowed four hits and three runs over three innings in taking the loss in the second game.

DeGrom (1-1) allowed three unearned runs and three hits in six innings and walked one, lowering his ERA to 0.45.

He started the streak with a called third strike against Josh Fuentes for the first out of the second inning, then got Sam Hillard and Dom Nunez swinging.

He struck out Chi Chi González, Raimel Tapia and Ryan McMahon in the third, and Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and C.J. Cron in the fourth.

Fuentes grounded an 0-1 pitch leading off the fifth and reached on a throwing error by second baseman Jeff McNeil, ending the streak.

“I would have liked to have fielded it, but my glove hit my leg,” deGrom said of Fuentes’ grounder. “That’s where we had him played. McNeil was there and he felt bad about it. I told him, ‘Keep your head up,’ and we ended up winning the ballgame.”

Detroit reliever Tyler Alexander was the previous pitcher to strike out nine in a row, accomplishing the feat last Aug. 2 against Cincinnati.

Colorado took a 3-1 lead against deGrom later in the fifth when Nunez hit an RBI triple, pinch-hitter Yonathan Daza hit a sacrifice fly and Tapia homered. All three runs were unearned because of McNeil’s error.

Despite deGrom’s 2.03 ERA in 79 starts since the start of the 2018 season coming in, New York was 37-42 with him on the mound.

With nine strikeouts in a row, deGrom matched the New York Giants’ Mickey Welch against Cleveland on Aug. 28, 1884, San Diego’s Jake Peavy at Arizona on April 25, 2007, the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco at Atlanta on Sept. 30, 2009, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Aaron Harang against San Diego on April 13, 2012, Detroit’s Doug Fister against Kansas City on Sept. 27, 2012, Washington’s Max Scherzer against the Mets on Oc. 3, 2015, and Alexander.

DeGrom extended his road unbeaten streak to 17 with the 48th double-digit strikeout game for the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner.

“His fastball had life,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “His slider had a good break down in the zone, didn’t make too many mistakes with the slider. His fastball at the top of the zone gets big league hitters throughout the National League. That’s where he gets a lot of his strikeouts, on that high fastball. But he’s able to command the corners with the heater, too.”

Edwin Díaz struck out the side for his first save this season.

Márquez (1-1) struck out six with a pair of walks.

Mets starter Joey Lucchesi allowed three runs and four hits over three innings in his first appearance since April 7 and his first start for New York.

SWING AND A HIT

DeGrom also helped himself with a single to start the third and then scored on a single by Alonso. DeGrom has had at least one hit in each of his first three starts. “I’m just trying to see the ball and hit it and not be an automatic out.” SWEET ENDING

Pulling out a win in the nightcap left the struggling Rockies with a soothing feeling for the moment in the club house. “It was a good time,” Fuentes said. “It just gives us a little momentum, a little confidence.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: INF José Peraza was optioned to the alternate training site to clear a roster spot for J.D. Davis, who was activated from the 10-day injured list. Davis bruised his left hand when hit by a pitch April 6 against Philadelphia. RHP Franklyn Kilome was sent outright to the alternate training site.

UP NEXT

RHP Marcus Stroman (2-0) starts for the Mets on Sunday and RHP Antonio Senzatela (1-2) for the Rockies.

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