BUFFALO — Even as it became obvious early Friday night that the Mets would beat the Blue Jays — 18-1 was the final — drama remained.
Jacob deGrom is chasing history in the form of a third consecutive NL Cy Young Award. That meant each at-bat, each pitch of his six innings of one-run ball was a little more interesting than it otherwise would have been.
By the end, he lowered his ERA to 1.67 (tops in the NL) and his WHIP to 0.87 (second), making him a leading candidate, perhaps the leading candidate, for the top pitching honor. He also leads the league with 79 strikeouts and is third in opponents’ batting average at .173.
“This is the best version of Jake deGrom that I’ve seen,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Stuff-wise, demeanor-wise, confidence-wise, he wants the ball, he wants to be out there. He’s pushing.”
DeGrom’s primary Cy competition: The Reds’ Trevor Bauer, who has a 1.74 ERA and leads the league with a 0.79 WHIP, and the Cubs’ Yu Darvish, who has a 1.77 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Each has three scheduled starts remaining in this 60-game, pandemic-shortened season, after which the major awards will be dispensed.
Toronto’s only run off deGrom came in the first, when Michael Conforto nearly caught Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s RBI single at the rightfield wall. DeGrom, who stranded two runners in scoring position in the fifth, struck out nine and worked around three hits and two walks.
“I try to treat everything like a 0-0 game,” he said. “Even in a game like tonight, that was my mindset the whole time.”
The Mets (21-24) backed him with their highest run total since Aug. 16, 2018 (24 against the Phillies). Infielder Santiago Espinal pitched the ninth for Toronto. Erasmo Ramirez picked up a three-inning save.
Wilson Ramos was 3-for-5 with four RBIs and four runs. Conforto began the onslaught with a three-run homer in the third against Chase Anderson (four runs, 2 2/3 innings). Dominic Smith’s first career grand slam — off former Ward Melville star Anthony Kay — highlighted a 10-run fourth inning.
“I was just trying to get the run in from third,” Smith said. Of the big offensive night, he noted: “That’s something that this offense is capable of doing.”