Saturday, October 10, 2015

deGrom, Murphy & Wright lead Mets past Dodgers in Game 1 of NLDS

NYM lead NLDS 1-0

The New York Mets have heard for two weeks about how dominant Clayton Kershaw would be, and, how New York would have an uphill climb against the Dodgers, who would not only throw Kershaw at them, but Zach Grienke as well in this series. While it remains to be seen how the Mets fare against Grienke in Game 2, the Mets found a way to beat Clayton Kershaw for the first time. 

The Mets waited nine years for a victory this sweet. On Friday night they rode a 13-strikeout performance by Jacob deGrom, and big nights at the plate by Daniel Murphy and David Wright all the way to a 3-1 win and a 1-0 series lead on Los Angeles in the NLDS. 

The story of the day had to be deGrom, who dominated a Dodgers lineup over seven innings of work. The 13 strikeouts deGrom recorded tied a franchise record for the most strikeouts in a playoff game, set by Tom Seaver in the 1973 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds. 

deGrom channeled the great pitchers of Mets past in this game; no matter the situation, no matter how loud Dodgers Stadium would get, he found a way to get through it all. Perhaps the biggest inning of the game came in the second when Justin Turner's fly ball was misplayed by Michael Cuddyer in left, as the ball went over Cuddyer's glove and rolled to the wall for a lead-off double. 

deGrom didn't let the pressure get to him. He struck out Andre Either swinging; struck out A.J. Ellis swinging, and after an intentional walk to Joc Pederson, struck out Kershaw swinging to get out of the jam. 

An inning later, deGrom was at it again, putting out another fire started by Cuddyer, who misplayed a fly ball by Corey Seager, who ended up with a ground-rule double. With Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, deGrom came back to form a 3-2 count and struck out Gonzalez swinging to end the frame. 

deGrom's effort set the stage for the Mets bats to finally wake up against Kershaw. Kershaw had been dominant as well, striking out 11 Mets over the course of his outing. However in the top of the fourth inning, Daniel Murphy lit a charge into a fastball and crushed it into the Mets bullpen in right field, giving New York a 1-0 lead. 

That slim 1-0 lead would stand up as deGrom continued to dominate the Dodgers, inspite of a rising pitch count. 

By the time seventh inning arrived, the Mets knew it was their chance to steal this game from the Dodgers. Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada worked out walks, and deGrom put down a terrific sacrifice bunt down the third base line, as the Dodgers were showing the wheel play. With runners on second and third, Curtis Granderson worked out a walk against Kershaw that chased the former Cy Young Award winner from the ball game. 

The Mets knew this was it. With two out in the seventh, the bases loaded, and Kershaw out of the game, New York wasn't going to let this moment slip by them. David Wright, who has been in front of some hideous collapses and losing seasons over the past nine years, wasn't going to be denied either. Like he did in Cincinnati when the Mets clinched the NL East, Wright put the exclamation point on this game with a two-run single up the middle pushing the Mets lead to 3-0. 

After Tyler Clippard got into some trouble in the eighth inning, Mets closer Jeurys Familia came in and shut the door. He got Justin Turner to line out to Daniel Murphy at first to end the eighth inning and proceeded to have a fairly easy ninth inning by inducing three ground balls to first, ending the game.

deGrom achieved a lot of milestones in the win. Not only did he record a franchise tying record for strikeouts in a playoff game, but he averaged 96.6 mph on his fastball Friday night, which was about two miles faster than what he threw in the regular season. In addition, he recorded 24-swing-and-misses, which was the most by a starter since the Giants' Tim Lincecum got 31-swing-and-misses against the Braves in 2010. 

deGrom also joined Lincecum, former Astros ace, Mike Scott; former Tiger, Joe Coleman, and former Oriole, Mike Boddicker with at least 13 strikeouts and no runs allowed in his postseason debut. 

Any questions about whether deGrom is the ace? I don't think so. 

The Mets will send Noah Syndergaard to the hill for Game 2. He will try to duplicate deGrom's tenacity on the hill when he faces Zach Grienke who pitched to a 1.66 ERA this season. 

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