The Mets, and especially Jacob deGrom, took a big step forward in a 6-1 win over the Cubs on Monday night at Citi Field.
After a pair of stinkers, deGrom threw a gutsy five-hitter for the Mets’ first complete game of 2017. Asdrubal Cabrera hit two home runs and Jay Bruce hit his team-leading 17th as the Mets won their fourth in a row.
Yoenis Cespedes took some steps, too. Very slow steps. And then he had to leave the game after five innings because of a sore left heel.
Cespedes returned Saturday from a stint on the disabled list because of a left hamstring strain. He’s also had problems with his right quadriceps recently and admitted upon his return that he is not 100 percent healed. Or heeled, apparently.
Cespedes, who still was limping after the game, said the heel problem is a chronic condition that flares up from time to time dating to his days in Cuba. He also said he’s not worried.
The Mets were worried about DeGrom (5-3) after he allowed an astonishing 15 runs and 18 hits in eight innings in his previous two outings. That came directly after two starts in which he gave up one run in 15 1⁄3 innings.
“I got my teeth kicked in the last two times,” deGrom said. “Definitely I wanted to have a good one, and was fortunate tonight that I did.”
DeGrom, who walked four (one intentional) and struck out six, was aided by double plays in four consecutive innings, the third to the sixth. He also survived a comical error on a pop-up by the first batter of the second inning.
The game was scoreless when Jason Heyward sent a pop-up to the left side of the infield. Third baseman Jose Reyes and shortstop Cabrera both called for it, and neither backed off until the very last second, when they brushed against each other and let the ball fall for a two-base error charged to Cabrera.
DeGrom didn’t let the gaffe upset him. He got out of the inning unscathed and didn’t allow a run until Addison Russell took him deep in the seventh.
“Definitely feels good,” deGrom said. “I haven’t been able to do that in the past couple of starts, so it felt good to pick those guys up.”
Cabrera avenged his error by leading off the bottom half with a homer to right for the first run of the game.
Bruce (3-for-3, walk) made it 3-0 with a two-run shot in the third. Cabrera led off the fourth by smacking the first pitch for his sixth home run and a 4-0 lead.
Manager Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez visited Cespedes in leftfield before the top of the fifth. Cespedes stayed in the game and hit a fly ball to center for the final out of the bottom half but did not return to the outfield.
“It’s very frustrating,” Collins said. “It’s always something else that’s going to pop in and rear its head, and that’s the case with this guy . . . I know he wanted to stay in. He wasn’t happy about coming out.”
Travis d’Arnaud had a two-out RBI double in the eighth, and Reyes followed with a single to make it 6-1.
DeGrom hit for himself and went out for the ninth with a pitch count of 106. He needed only 10 more to set down the Cubs in order for the second complete game of his career. The other came last July 17 at Philadelphia.
Collins said he left deGrom in because the Mets are using a six-man rotation. DeGrom said he wasn’t coming out no matter what.
“I walked in [after the eighth] and said I wanted to finish the game,” deGrom said. “So that’s when I knew I was going back out.”