NEW YORK — In what turned out to the best start of his Major League career, in a career that is already glittering with gold, New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom was asked afterward how he felt before twirling one of the great starts in the history of a pitching-rich franchise.
From his initial jitters, deGrom put the Washington Nationals hitters through three hours of unnerving misery, striking out a career-high 15 batters and completing a two-hit shutout in New York’s 6-0 victory at Citi Field on Friday night. Brandon Nimmo had four RBI, including a two-run home run in the eighth inning to end the competitive nature of the contest.
deGrom, who was coming off a start in Colorado in which he struck out nine straight batters at one point on his way to a then-career-high 14 punch outs, went out and topped that gem while making Major League history; His outing allowed him to become the first pitcher in the modern era to strike out 50 batters in the first starts of the season. His 15 strikeouts came in the first seven innings, with the single-game holy grail of 20 strikeouts coming into a realistic view.
All that, and deGrom came into the contest a bundle of nerves because his stuff was…too good?
“Tonight, I noticed my stuff was really good in the bullpen. That made me a little nervous, because some of my best starts, I barely hit the strike zone [in the bullpen],” said deGrom, who recorded his 49th career game of at least 10 strikeouts and third this season. “Walking in, I was thinking you got to keep that focus throughout the whole game.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday night’s game, with all photos taken by New York City-area photographer Roberto Carlo. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently 11 pictures in total.