Terry Collins couldn’t help but wonder if those 118 pitches had been a factor. If Jacob deGrom had tired out his reliable right arm four days ago, and if Wednesday night’s performance was just a natural repercussion of his being stretched out without enough time to recover.
To which Jacob deGrom replied: Nah.
“I don’t think so,” deGrom said after one of the worst performances of his career, a 7-1 loss to the Brewers at Citi Field. “I was just bad tonight, honestly terrible. I couldn’t throw the ball where I wanted to and I was falling over hard to the first-base side. Tonight is on me. I wasn’t able to keep our team in a position to win and it was an all-around bad job on my part.”
The loss snapped the Mets’ three-game winning streak.
While deGrom didn’t quite comport himself as an ace on the mound — allowing seven earned runs, eight hits and five walks — he certainly did it off the field, taking full responsibility for the four-inning clunker that put the Mets in a hole they just couldn’t emerge from.
After two strong starts, deGrom looked utterly lost from the beginning, struggling to locate his offspeed pitches and catching too much of the plate with his fastball.
For a team that’s dealt with so much uncertainty this year, deGrom, though far from perfect, had been perfectly reliable. So much so, that the fact the Mets were working with a short bullpen (courtesy of Tuesday’s extra-inning game) didn’t seem like so much of a concern before they took the field.
Little did they know they’d be relying on Josh Edgin and Neil Ramirez for five innings of scoreless relief.
DeGrom’s “command, it was all over the place,” said Collins, who before the game said he believed deGrom was close to reaching peak performance.
“I certainly don’t know if it’s a reason, but the other night in Pittsburgh, when he pushed it to 118 pitches and everyone was up in arms when I took him out at 118 knowing he had to come back in four days, sometimes your arm doesn’t bounce back that fast when you’re stretched out. There’s a chance he just didn’t have enough rest.”
What he also didn’t have was his slider. Or his changeup, for that matter.
He walked the leadoff batter, Eric Sogard, on a 3-and-2 slider, and then missed completely on a changeup to slugger Eric Thames. His homer traveled well over 400 feet to the back of the Mets’ bullpen, giving the Brewers a major league-leading 50 first-inning runs.
He let up another run in the second, on Keon Broxton’s monstrous homer to left, and four more in the fourth. Jesus Aguilar hit a bullet over Curtis Granderson. The ball hit the lip of Granderson’s glove, but the centerfielder couldn’t make the catch, and a run scored. Hernan Perez tacked on a two-run double, and the Brewers got one more on Manny Pina’s groundout, making it 7-0.
The only worse outing by deGrom came Aug. 18 of last year, when he allowed eight runs.
The offense sputtered to a stop against Junior Guerra. They managed four hits in Guerra’s six innings, all singles. Their biggest threat came in the seventh, when the Mets loaded the bases with one out against Jared Hughes, but Jay Bruce, Tuesday night’s hero, hit into a 4-6-3 double play. The Mets finally scored on Michael Conforto’s RBI double in the ninth.
Much like his batterymate, Rene Rivera offered no excuses. Sometimes, he said, you just don’t have it. Even if your name is Jacob deGrom.
“These things happen,” Rivera said. “He’s been good all year. We’re human. We’re going to be good one day, so-so one day. Today was his day.”