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No hangover as Mets junior varsity, Jacob deGrom complete sweep of Reds

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom throws

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom throws in the second inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Cincinnati. Credit: AP / Aaron Doster

CINCINNATI - Everything about the place screamed hangover, from the lingering scent of cigar smoke to the hum of the fans installed to dry the champagne-soaked clubhouse carpeting.

"The best sleep I've had in a long time," said Mets manager Terry Collins, the recipient of a congratulatory phone call from Sandy Koufax.

The late bus to the ballpark did brisker business than usual. And the names in the starting lineup brought back memories of Port St. Lucie in March.

This was to be expected a day after the Mets clinched their first NL East crown since 2006.

What wasn't expected, however, was the way they maintained their edge.

During an 8-1 thrashing Sunday by the Mets, it was the Reds who appeared to be among the walking dead, offering little resistance against Jacob deGrom in his penultimate tuneup before the postseason.

DeGrom (14-8, 2.60) allowed one run and five hits in six innings. He walked none and struck out nine, bringing him to within two punchouts of recording 200 in his second big-league season.

A lineup devoid of regulars went on a tear.

Little-used September call-up Dilson Herrera hit a two-run homer. Kevin Plawecki hit a solo shot, his third homer. DeGrom reached base three times, including a two-run single.

The Reds obliged with plenty of sloppiness. First baseman Joey Votto got handcuffed on a grounder, his third-inning error opening the door for the Mets. In the fifth, leftfielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. muffed deGrom's liner, allowing the first of two runs to score.

Something remains at stake, of course.

The Mets, who will go for their 90th win night against the Phillies, have a 1 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage once the NLDS begins Oct. 9.

But just as important is a laundry list of tasks before that day comes. In the case of deGrom, that meant giving him his longest period of inactivity all season.

Convinced that his command was beginning to suffer, the Mets pushed back deGrom's start as a way to manage his workload down the stretch. He hadn't pitched in 12 days since being roughed up by the Marlins on Sept. 15.

"I think the rest did him good," Collins said.

DeGrom began the season with no innings limits, but his 6.41 ERA in his previous five starts gave the Mets reason to give him more rest. Their motivation only grew as they maintained a healthy lead in the NL East.

Despite the long layoff, deGrom worked in a smooth rhythm. He showed the kind of sharpness the Mets want to see in the playoffs. After surrendering a leadoff double to Skip Schumaker, he retired 14 in a row.

"I had more control down in the zone today," deGrom said.

The Mets arrived in Cincinnati on Thursday coming off a 3-6 homestand. They departed on another high.

As Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon brawled in the Nationals' dugout -- yet another snapshot of a rival in turmoil -- the Mets ended Hangover Day with their annual rookie dress-up.

After the game, the team's first-year players took to the streets of Cincinnati wearing Underoos featuring various superheroes.

New York Sports