SEATTLE — Jacob deGrom let go of a 95-mph fastball Saturday afternoon, aiming to get inside on Mitch Haniger. Instead, the pitch hit the Mariners outfielder square in the mouth, leaving him with loose teeth and a lip that was cut so badly that he will require plastic surgery.
DeGrom later said he had difficulty refocusing after the episode. The following batter, Jarrod Dyson, ripped a two-run single. But the Mets righthander found his bearings, showing the resilience that had him bidding for his franchise-record ninth straight victory in a single season.
“You never want to hit anybody in the face,” deGrom said after the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Mariners. “It’s not easy to pitch after you do that. Trying to go inside there and it just sailed on me. Definitely feel bad about it. It’s not easy to stay out there and re-concentrate.”
Still, on a day in which his streak came to an end, deGrom did just that. Through three innings, he had allowed three runs, one of which was unearned. He needed 73 pitches to record nine outs but ultimately gave the Mets a chance to win.
In the second inning, deGrom was struck on the left shin by Nelson Cruz’s liner before hitting Haniger in the face later in the inning. On the mound, he reminded himself that he did not hit Haniger on purpose. “I was trying to go inside and one got away from me,” he said. “So it’s not easy to forget about.”
But deGrom did enough to keep himself together. Cruz’s sacrifice fly in the third inning began a stretch of 10 straight retired, and in his final three innings, deGrom allowed only one baserunner. The final line was mostly unremarkable: In six innings, he surrendered three runs (two earned). He departed with his team down two runs, restoring order partly by racking up 10 strikeouts.
DeGrom became the first Mets pitcher with eight double-digit strikeout games in one season since David Cone in 1992.
“He doesn’t get too down about it,” Terry Collins said of deGrom’s early issues “He’s got to go about his job, and he kept us in the game. We had lots of opportunities. We just didn’t score him any runs.”
In his previous eight starts, deGrom posted a 1.61 ERA. He had equaled the franchise record for wins in consecutive starts in a single season, a mark shared by Bobby Jones (1997), Cone (1988) and Tom Seaver (1969). One more win for deGrom would have tied the franchise record for consecutive wins held by Frank Viola, who won nine straight from 1989 to 1990.
History wasn’t in the cards, though as the day went along, that had less to do with deGrom and more to do with a Mets lineup that squandered opportunities.
In the fifth, Curtis Granderson walked and Wilmer Flores singled with none out. But Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo retired the next three Mets to end the threat.
The Mets nearly rallied again in the sixth, this time with two outs. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker laced consecutive singles before Granderson walked to load the bases.
Wilmer Flores drew another walk off reliever Tony Zych to force in a run, but Jose Reyes flied out.
The Mets threatened again in the seventh, only to be turned away. Travis d’Arnaud began the inning with a single and Michael Conforto walked, but Asdrubal Cabrera’s double-play grounder killed the momentum.
In the ninth, Conforto’s two-out single to right off Edwin Diaz gave the Mets one more chance, but Cabrera struck out to wrap up a day in which deGrom’s streak came to an end.
“I definitely want to win every time I go out there,” deGrom said. “Today, I wasn’t able to get a win. I needed to make a big pitch and I wasn’t able to do it.”