WASHINGTON — Jacob deGrom’s march to the National League Cy Young Award continued Friday night as he evened his record at 9-9 with a 4-2 victory over the Nationals before 37,895 at Nationals Park.
DeGrom’s MLB-best ERA dropped from 1.78 to 1.77 as he allowed one run and three hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
DeGrom has one scheduled start left this season, Wednesday against the Braves at Citi Field. Mickey Callaway slyly left open the possibility that deGrom could start the final day of the season Sept. 30 on three days’ rest. He said Wednesday is deGrom’s last start “for now.”
DeGrom said he’s not thinking past Wednesday.
“I think that’ll just be something we’ll have to look at,” he said. “Get ready for this start Wednesday and just kind of see where I’m at. I haven’t thought about it, really.”
The Mets improved to 13-18 in deGrom’s starts by giving him something he’s been lacking most of the season: support.
Jay Bruce had two hits, including a double, and two RBIs. Devin Mesoraco, in his first game since Sept. 3, went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and an RBI. Dominic Smith contributed an RBI single.
The Mets also helped deGrom’s Cy Young credentials this week by keeping his closest competitors from getting wins against them.
Max Scherzer, who gave up three runs in seven innings and struck out 13 in a no-decision in the series opener Thursday, is 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA and 290 strikeouts in 213 2⁄3 innings.
Aaron Nola of the Phillies is 16-5 with a 2.44 ERA after allowing two runs in 5 2⁄3 innings to the Mets on Tuesday.
Thirty members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will decide the Cy Young winner, with results to be announced in November. Any voters who might feel guilty about voting for deGrom despite his won-loss record can at least sleep soundly that he has gotten back to .500.
DeGrom extended his own major-league records with his 23rd straight quality start and his 28th consecutive start of allowing three or fewer runs. He has allowed as many as four runs only once in 31 starts. His consistency has been eye-popping, but deGrom continues to be the least impressed person with himself.
“He’s very similar to [Corey] Kluber when it comes to really anticlimactic attitudes these guys have,” Bruce said. “They’re very, very boring. In the best way possible. They come and they work. They take care of their business. They’re not really interested in the dog-and-pony show. It’s refreshing to see. It’s very, very impressive.”
Bruce drove in the opening run in the first inning with a single to left off Joe Ross (0-1).
The Nationals tied it on Ryan Zimmerman’s sacrifice fly in the second. DeGrom ended the inning by picking Wilmer Difo off first base. It was the first 1-3 pickoff of deGrom’s career.
The Mets took a 4-1 lead with a three-run third. Michael Conforto hit an opposite-field double and scored on Bruce’s double to right-center. Bruce has 16 RBIs in his last 15 games.
One out later, Smith lined a single to right to make it 3-1. Anthony Rendon booted Todd Frazier’s grounder to third for an error and Mesoraco followed with an RBI double to left to make it 4-1.
DeGrom cruised from there, allowing singles by Victor Robles in the third and Spencer Kieboom in the fifth. He left for a pinch hitter in the eighth.
Seth Lugo threw a scoreless inning and Robert Gsellman notched his 12th save despite allowing a run in the ninth.