Upon entering the Mets' clubhouse Saturday afternoon, Jacob deGrom playfully shoved Zack Wheeler, who at the time had his eyes fixed on a book.
After lightheartedly disturbing his rotation mate, deGrom strolled through the clubhouse. He smiled. He chatted with a few more teammates. By the time he nestled into the chair in front of his locker and put on large ruby red headphones, deGrom looked like the happiest guy in the room.
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Then it got even better.
DeGrom dazzled, dealt and delivered Saturday night in a way that's quickly become the norm for the 26-year-old rookie righthander as the Mets beat the Giants, 4-2, at Citi Field.
DeGrom, who continues to defeat pressure with the poise of a veteran, carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, matching the Giants' Jake Peavy. DeGrom (6-5) wound up allowing two runs and four hits in 71/3 innings, the deepest he's ever pitched in a game. The National League Rookie of the Year candidate struck out seven and walked one in lowering his ERA to 2.77.
"I think we all got to start to understand that this kid has got a little something special," Terry Collins said. "Poise is part of it. He's an impressive kid, boy."
But DeGrom wasn't the only unhittable hurler Saturday night. The 33,687 in attendance nearly witnessed history.
Until the seventh inning, Peavy (1-11) was even more magnificent than deGrom. Peavy, acquired in a trade with the Red Sox on July 26, retired the first 19 Mets batters, meaning neither side had a hit entering the seventh.
Then the Mets exploded.
Daniel Murphy became their first baserunner, cracking a double over the head of leftfielder Michael Morse. He later scored on Travis d'Arnaud's bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Juan Lagares added a two-out RBI single and Wilmer Flores had a two-run double.
DeGrom allowed his first hit with two outs in the seventh, a double by Pablo Sandoval. Undeterred, he got Morse to ground out. "He's got this demeanor," d'Arnaud said. "He's a bulldog who keeps fighting and keeps attacking."
DeGrom allowed his first baserunner with two outs in the fifth when he walked Brandon Belt.
"I was trying not to think about the no-hitter," deGrom said. "I knew that we didn't have a hit off [Peavy] either, but I was just trying to stick with the game plan we had and keep going after them."
DeGrom was a shortstop in college. His minor-league pitching statistics were rather ordinary and he has been overshadowed by Matt Harvey, Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard in terms of hype, but few Mets people say they are surprised by the success he's had in the majors.
"He's still improving," vice president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta said in a phone interview Friday. "He's learning how to use his weapons and that learning really accelerates at the major-league level. Not only because of the quality of competition he faces, but also because of the preparation that goes into each and every start."
After the Mets (53-57) gave him four runs, deGrom allowed three hits in the eighth, including a two-run single by Travis Ishikawa, before leaving with a runner on first and one out. Jeurys Familia finished the inning without allowing a baserunner and Jenrry Mejia earned his 16th save.
The Mets didn't get a hit in Friday night's loss until Lagares singled in the sixth. It took an additional inning for their first hit Saturday night, but the result allowed deGrom to keep a smile on his face.