One game out of every five, Jacob deGrom is the conductor of the Mets’ orchestra, the leader of a gaggle of instrumentalists who hit dissonant notes as he works on a masterpiece. They tend to play only one song, and they always seem to come up flat.
On Friday night, the rest of the Mets again were way off key, continuing their uncanny inability to support deGrom’s gems. He dominated on the mound and even drove in a run. None of his teammates did much of anything, though, and the Mets lost to the Braves, 2-1, at Citi Field.
DeGrom leads the majors with a 1.85 ERA. In his seven losses (against five wins), he has a 2.88 ERA, which would rank 11th among baseball’s 79 qualified pitchers — better than the Yankees’ Luis Severino, the Phillies’ Jake Arrieta and the Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz.
“Every time I go out there, I’m trying to put us in a position to win,” deGrom said. “We just haven’t won baseball games that I’ve been pitching. It’s not like these guys aren’t trying to put up runs.”
Manager Mickey Callaway said: “I don’t think Jacob just says the right things to say the right things. He really believes it. He knows those guys are out there trying.”
DeGrom allowed two runs, six hits and one walk in eight innings, striking out nine.
Atlanta struck in the second on Johan Camargo’s solo home run off the facing of the upper deck in rightfield.
“Good pitch,” said deGrom, who threw a career-high 33 changeups. “He had to be looking for it.”
The only other run against deGrom came with two outs in the fifth, when Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies each doubled to leftfield.
Most nights for most teams, that would be good enough for a win. When deGrom pitches, good enough isn’t.
Sure, he could have done more. He could have pitched nine innings instead of eight, allowed one run instead of two, and homered instead of singled. The last of those occurred in the third inning, when his grounder up the middle drove in Amed Rosario from second.
It might not provide deGrom any consolation, but the Mets have treated most of their pitchers this way of late, scoring 11 runs in the past six games. In two of those games, they would have been shut out if not for a run-scoring hit from the pitcher — deGrom on Friday night, Zack Wheeler on Sunday.
The Mets have scored one or no runs in 24 games. Only the Orioles, who have the worst record in baseball, have done it more often (27 times).
The Mets had only two hits, including Rosario’s double. Anibal Sanchez struck out nine in six innings.
“Early, I felt like we were going to get to the guy. We hit some balls hard. They made some decent plays on the run,” Callaway said. “And then the later it gets . . . you do get a little frustrated. You start feeling that you let Jacob down.”
DeGrom has allowed four runs in 33 innings in five starts against the Braves this year (his run total Friday matched his runs allowed in his first four games against them). He has a 1.09 ERA in those games, none of which has been won by the Mets.
The Mets did lend deGrom a hand defensively. In the third, second baseman Jose Reyes started a double play with a diving stop of Albies’ grounder. First baseman Jose Bautista fired to third to get Acuña, who was trying to advance from first.
Callaway thought the ensuing burst of positive energy might carry over. It didn’t.
Four months into this bizarre trend, deGrom isn’t used to it.
“It’s not something I ever want to get used to,” he said. “Nobody in here likes losing.”
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