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Marcus Stroman strong for eight innings to give Mets series win in Colorado

Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman points to his

Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman points to his glove after stopping a ground ball off the bat of the Rockies' Josh Fuentes in the eighth inning of a game Sunday in Denver. Credit: AP/David Zalubowski

DENVER — On a day full of highlights, particularly for the pitcher, Marcus Stroman’s greatest show of emotion Sunday was inspired not by his arm but by his glove.

He was in the final frame of an eight-inning, one-run start, his longest and perhaps best outing with the Mets, in a 2-1 win over the Rockies. Manager Luis Rojas was going to give him only the first three batters in the inning.

The first of those batters, Josh Fuentes, sent a one-hopper softly toward the mound. Stroman took one step backward, stuck his glove behind his back and caught the ball. His ensuing off-balance throw made it about halfway to first base, but it rolled the rest of the way, barely in time. An outstretched Pete Alonso scooped it up just before Fuentes’ foot reached the base.

Stroman ended up near third base. Looking into the Mets’ dugout, he pointed to the gold label on his glove — a trophy of sorts from Rawlings, available only to those who have won Gold Gloves, as Stroman did in 2017 — and shouted: "Look at that! That’s [expletive] gold!"

 

"Just letting them know that that’s why I got a Gold Glove," Stroman said. "My guys are always top-stepping it whenever there’s a big-time play or whenever I’m putting energy out there, so I was just giving it back to them."

He added that the play was "definitively instinctive and going off reaction."

"It worked out perfectly," he said. "Pete made a great stretch to get him."

Rojas had a different take. He would have preferred to see Stroman let it go by so shortstop Francisco Lindor could field it for a routine groundout.

"To be honest with you, I’m not a fan of the play much," he said, sort of laughing. "Stroman has won a Gold Glove and he’s capable of doing those plays. But sometimes when the pitcher throws their glove behind their back, I close my eyes a little bit, like it might nick the glove and change direction and turn into a hit."

That was just about the end for Stroman, whose ERA actually rose from 0.75 to 0.90. He scattered three hits with five strikeouts and one walk. After his first batter of the game, Raimel Tapia, firmly grounded a single into leftfield, he retired 18 of the next 19, including a stretch of 12 straight.

That ended in the seventh, Stroman’s only demerit. Trevor Story (double) and Charlie Blackmon (single) created a run. He rebounded with back-to-back strikeouts to finish the frame.

Stroman was efficient throughout, totaling 90 pitches. That seventh inning was his longest, requiring 19 pitches. The next-longest frame took 13.

"This year is the best version of him I’ve seen," Rojas said.

With the top of the Rockies’ lineup due up for the fourth time, Rojas pulled Stroman in favor of closer Edwin Diaz for the ninth inning, and Diaz made it interesting. Ryan McMahon flied out to the warning track in leftfield and Story managed a two-out single. He tried to steal second base but was thrown out by James McCann to end the game.

"Yeah, that was on the money, eh?" Rojas said. "Also the tag from Lindor to finish it."

The Mets scratched across two runs against Rockies righthander Antonio Senzatela, who allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and no walks in six innings. Michael Conforto (2-for-4) was in the middle of both rallies and scored a run.

In taking their second series in a row, the Mets improved to 7-4. Not bad for a team that has dealt with a series of postponements and really hasn’t started hitting yet. A key: The rotation has a 2.26 ERA.

"It’s not a shock to us," Conforto said, "that they’re having success."

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