Jacob deGrom is becoming something of an All-Star Game regular, having been two seasons in a row and three times in the past five. In his exhibition encounters with the American League, only one batter has beaten him: the Angels’ Mike Trout, who is generally considered the best baseball player in the world.
At last year’s Midsummer Classic, Trout homered off deGrom. In a rematch Tuesday night at Progressive Field, deGrom won, getting Trout to pop out to first on a fastball over the heart of the plate during the American League’s 4-3 win against the National League.
Trout’s out concluded the third inning and a vintage deGrom appearance: one inning, three batters, three outs, seven pitches.
“I knew [Trout] hit a changeup out last year, so definitely wanted to get him out today,” deGrom said with a smile.
With the first pitch, deGrom teased Trout with another changeup, this one down in the dirt. He came back with a 98-mph fastball that Trout got under.
DeGrom got Astros outfielder George Springer to swing and miss at a slider — a mere 94 mph — down and away for the first out. Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu sent a bouncer back to the mound, and deGrom made the snag. Then Trout popped up.
“Warming up, I knew it was those three and I was looking forward to the challenge,” deGrom said. “Anytime you get to go face the best, that’s what you’re here for. That’s what you want to do.
“The biggest thing was figuring out a way to get loose down there without a whole lot of space. You’re used to long tossing before [a start]. My main thing was just to make sure I was loose enough to go in the game. Approach was the same, just go right after them. That’s what I was thinking.”
In three All-Star Games, Trout’s homer is the only baserunner deGrom has allowed. He has struck out five and walked none in three innings.
Pete Alonso went 1-for-2 with a two-run single and a stolen base after his eventful pregame. During batting practice, Alonso was among the few to rock bare arms in the sleeveless All-Star jerseys; shook hands with commissioner Rob Manfred, who paused his conversation with Dodgers/NL manager Dave Roberts to talk to Alonso; and took about 70 grounders, more than Dodgers (and former Mets) bench coach Bob Geren said he has seen a player take before any game.
The Mets’ third All-Star, Jeff McNeil, wasn’t sure which of his four positions he was going to play — leftfield, second base, rightfield, third base — but brought all of his gloves with him, ready for anything as always. He ended up playing leftfield, replacing the Cubs’ Kris Bryant in the sixth, and flying out to left in his only at-bat.