The script had been written long ago, and it seemed as if it were up to the Mets to merely act it out. Jacob deGrom would be brilliant, the offense would sputter and Mets fans would go home disappointed.
But say this for the Mets — with all that went wrong in 2018, they haven’t shied away from examining the sins of yesteryear, and at least on Saturday, things were different.
They were different this time because they had Pete Alonso and because Michael Conforto is getting hot when the team needs it the most. And yes, because deGrom can pitch very, very well.
After five innings of futility against starter Sandy Alcantara and the (usually) hapless Marlins, the Mets finally broke the spell, thanks to back-to-back homers by Alonso and Conforto and an RBI single by deGrom in a 4-1 win at Citi Field.
Seth Lugo pitched a perfect eighth and Edwin Diaz allowed two runners with two outs in the ninth before getting Jon Berti to fly out.
The Mets can reach .500 with a series sweep Sunday when Noah Syndergaard takes the mound against the worst team in baseball.
Perhaps more importantly, after a few brief forays into human fallibility, deGrom returned to form with a vintage display of domination. He allowed one run, five hits and a walk in seven innings with eight strikeouts. The victory broke a personal four-game losing streak, one shy of his career high.
“He’s back,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “I kind of figured that a couple outings ago. He looks like Jacob deGrom again. Confident, executing pitches, keeping runners off base . . . He’s back and it is very comforting.”
DeGrom showcased a nasty slider that kept hitters off-kilter and said he wasn’t falling off to the first-base side after his delivery, allowing him to locate his fastball. “Tonight was definitely a step in the right direction,” he said.
His only stumble was against the bottom of the Marlins’ lineup in the third inning.
With one out, Berti snuck a double inside the rightfield line before Alcantara smoked a 97-mph fastball to left for an RBI double and a 1-0 lead.
The Mets tied it in the fourth when Robinson Cano led off with a single, moved to second on Alonso’s groundout and scored on Conforto’s single to right. Conforto, 2-for-3 on Saturday and 3-for-3 on Friday, appears to be coming out of a slump in which he was 1-for-15 the previous five games.
With one out in the sixth, Alonso smacked a slider from Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara into the bullpen in rightfield for a 2-1 lead. The opposite-field blast was his 12th home run of the season. Four pitches later, Conforto lined a 95-mph fastball 417 feet to rightfield, his second homer in as many days.
Brandon Nimmo walked with two outs and Tomas Nido singled, putting runners on first and second. DeGrom flared an RBI single to left- centerfield for a 4-1 lead. It was his second hit of the game after he doubled in the third inning.
“It’s a dangerous series because it’s a team you can look past,” Conforto said. “It’s a team that, they’re a talented young group and really they have some good arms. They’ve got some guys that can swing the bat and they’re aggressive on the bases, so these games are important and I think, at the end of the year, it’s going to . . . tell a story at the top of the division. We’re not going to look past anybody.”