You could kind of tell, y’know? When he went 3-2 on the leadoff hitter, you might have gotten an idea. A delayed start on a chilly night, coming off an historically good performance, with an extra day of rest… A number of factors conspired to have Jacob deGrom deliver a sub-par outing against the Minnesota Twins in the first game of their abbreviated interleague series. deGrom would strike out that hitter — Max Kepler — but he would continue to run deep counts most of the night.
He got through that first inning, surrendering only a bunt single by Jorge Polanco. He would not be so fortunate in the second. Catcher Mitch Garver punished a hanging slider on an 0-1 pitch to give the Twins an early lead. Clearly lacking his “out” pitch on this night, deGrom wound up throwing 31 pitches in that second inning. He walked Marwin Gonzalez on a 3-2 pitch, got Jonathan Schoop to pop up (3-2), had Byron Buxton ground into a force play (3-2) and struck out pitcher Kyle Gibson (3-2). The Mets, though, would pull even in the bottom half. Michael Conforto pulled a double inside the first base bag and J.D. Davis walked. After Jeff McNeil struck out, Amed Rosario scalded a shot into left field for a double, scoring Conforto with Davis holding on at third. This would prove key. Travis d’Arnaud, making his first big-league start of the year, struck out on a slider right down the middle and deGrom grounded out to first. d’Arnaud’s woes would continue in the third. With one out, Polanco rapped a triple to right center. With Willians Astudillo at bat, deGrom buried a changeup that squirted past the catcher and the Twins had the lead again. But the fun was just beginning. Astudillo would end up shooting a single to left field. Eddie Rosario took a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall, thus relieving deGrom of all his burdensome streaks and giving the Twins a 4-1 lead. It would become 5-1 when Garver drove a lifeless fastball into the left field stands.
As it turns out, there was still a lot of game left, after all. Brandon Nimmo tried to ignite a reflexive comeback leading off the third, sending a booming home run to left center. After Pete Alonso struck out and Robinson Cano grounded out into the shift, Michael Conforto homered in his third consecutive game — a monster shot into the right field seats — making it 5-3. Davis struck out to end the frame.
The Twins padded their lead, though. Buxton hit deGrom’s first pitch of the third into the left field corner for a double and was bunted to third by Gibson. Kepler then ripped a — what else? — 3-2 pitch through the drawn in infield. deGrom was able to stem that tide, with d’Arnaud gunning down Kepler trying to steal to end the inning, but his pitch count rose to 97, more than enough on a damp April evening. Seth Lugo would take over in the fifth.
The Mets missed a golden opportunity to make some hay. Nimmo would start the bottom of the fifth with a base hit that somehow rolled all the way to the left field wall. After Alonso was robbed of a hit by Gonzalez at third and Cano popped up, Conforto and Davis both walked. That was it for Gibson, who would not qualify for the win after all. Trevor Hildenberger came on to face McNeil, representing the go-ahead run. McNeil worked the count to 2-2 and lofted a fly to left. Eddie Rosario galloped in and then had to gallop out again to make the catch. Schoop woulld make the Mets pay for it with a long homer into the left field stands off Lugo.
Trevor May replaced Hildenberger and retired the Mets easily in the sixth. Luis Avilan succeeded Lugo in the seventh, surrendering only a two-out walk to Eddie Rosario and a single to Garver. Twins lefthander Adelberto Mejia gave up an opposite field home run to Alonso with one out in the eighth, and walked Cano, giving the Mets a small measure of hope. With Conforto hitting, Mejia uncorked a wild pitch, moving Cano to second. Conforto then hit a disheartening popup to right field. With Davis, destroyer of lefties, due up, Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli waved in his closer — still in the seventh, mind you — Blake Parker. Davis would ground out to short. Robert Gsellman gave up the Twins’ eighth run when Buxton roped a double to right center and Ehire Adrianza’s hot grounder scooted under Alonso’s glove at first, his first MLB error. Polanco followed that up with with Minnesota’s fifth home run of the night, a long shot over the wall in right center, making it 10-4. Jason Vargas came in for his first relief appearance in, literally, ten years and gave up double to Eddie Rosario, a single to Garver and another single to pinch hitter Jason Castro to plate the Twins’ eleventh run. Schoop then hit another tracer into the stands and Minnesota suddenly had a ten-run lead. The ninth came and the Mets got a leadoff walk from Nimmo and another home run from Alonso off Chase DeJong. Cano singled, Conforto walked, Davis singled and McNeil walked for the easy RBI and d’Arnaud had run-scoring ground out, but finally, this endless, horrid game would mercifully end.
Hey, it happens.
Noah Syndergaard will face Jake Odorizzi in the series finale, 7:10 tomorrow at Citi Field.