Excellence and frustration have been Jacob deGrom’s constant companions in this remarkable season. Both were on display again Thursday at Citi Field — and more frustration may be on the way when the NL Cy Young Award voting is announced in November.
DeGrom fell to 8-8 as he was outdueled by Madison Bumgarner in a 3-1 loss to the Giants.
Bumgarner never has won a Cy Young Award (neither did Cy Young, by the way). DeGrom may never have a better chance than this year, but the Mets continue to give him little support, other than the emotional kind.
The two runs against deGrom scored on a two-out passed ball by Devin Mesoraco on a swinging strike and a two-out double by Bumgarner one batter after plate umpire Tony Randazzo missed an obvious third-strike call on an 0-and-2 pitch to Nick Hundley.
The pitch to Evan Longoria that Mesoraco missed glanced off the top of his mitt and allowed Steven Duggar to score an unearned run in the third. The Mets inquired as to whether Longoria had foul-tipped the ball, but Randazzo said no, and replays backed him up. Mesoraco left the game two innings later with a stiff neck and went for an MRI.
The pitch Randazzo missed would have ended the fourth inning. DeGrom, Mesoraco and every other Mets defender started off the field, and replays didn’t back up Randazzo this time.
DeGrom, who walked a season-high four and struck out 10 in six innings, went on to walk Hundley to put runners on first and second for Bumgarner, who is no slouch at the plate and once homered off deGrom. This time he smacked an RBI double inside the bag at third to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.
As he headed back to the mound after backing up the plate, deGrom crossed in front of Randazzo and yelled at him.
“I told him, ‘You can’t miss it,’ ” deGrom said. “ ‘I thought it was a strike and you can’t miss that.’
“Nobody’s perfect out there. Just like we make mistakes, leave balls over the middle that get hit. You can’t expect them to be perfect.”
DeGrom said his frustration had “nothing to do with the Cy Young. It has to do with being out there and competing. You make a pitch and you think it’s a strike. You want it to be a strike and it wasn’t.”
DeGrom also said it was his job to make a pitch after the missed strike.
Randazzo, to his credit, did not react to deGrom’s shouting. He also didn’t apologize. It was an honest mistake.
You know what wouldn’t be an honest mistake? If the 30 voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America give the Cy Young to Max Scherzer instead of deGrom (at least as they stand today).
That would just be a mistake — and based on one unscientific poll, it appears that’s what may happen.
MLB.com released a poll of 27 BBWAA members on Aug. 7. It wasn’t close. Scherzer got 20 of 27 first-place votes and deGrom got the other seven. So much for pitcher wins not mattering to a supposedly more enlightened voting body!
Now, a few caveats: 30 BBWAA members, not the 27 polled by MLB.com, will determine the Cy Young winner after the regular season. DeGrom was ahead of Scherzer in MLB.com’s July poll. And deGrom was 5-7 when the Aug. 7 poll went live.
At least he doesn’t have a losing record today.
But he doesn’t have a winning one, either.
Scherzer, by the way, lost a duel of his own with another Cy Young candidate, Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola, on Thursday.
Nola (15-3, 2.13 ERA) threw eight shutout innings in the Phillies’ 2-0 win over the Nationals. Scherzer (16-6, 2.13) gave up two runs in seven innings.
We could bore you with the advanced numbers, but suffice it to say that deGrom (1.71 ERA) has done a better job of preventing runs than Scherzer and Nola have this season. That’s all that should matter.
If that holds, the final vote after the season — 30 people out of a nation of 326 million — will be fascinating.
If someone else wins, it will be a fitting final moment of 2018 frustration for deGrom.