With Jacob deGrom on the mound and Kyle Freeland making his season debut for the Rockies, this game was teed up to be a pitcher’s duel and it delivered. Despite Freeland surrendering an early run to the Mets in the first, Ryan McMahon tied it up with a solo homer in the second. The 1-1 tie held until Chi Chi González, who after pitching one scoreless inning, gave up a two-run homer to backup catcher Tomás Nido in the sixth inning. With four Mets pitchers combining to hold the Rockies to three hits and striking them out 16 times, a two-run lead was more than enough for the Mets to end the Rockies four-game winning streak.
Mets bring the heat
In the words of Kyle Freeland after walking back to the dugout after striking out at the hand of deGrom, “wow.” deGrom was his usual dominant self, striking out nine Rockies and giving up one run on three hits in five innings in his first game back from a 10-day IL stint with a side injury. Despite being on a pitch count which limited him to 63 pitches, deGrom’s 44 of his 63 pitches were at least 98 mph, including 12 over 100. His changeup came in at 93 mph, which was good enough to strike out McMahon in the fourth.
The Rockies didn’t get a break when Miguel Castro entered the game in the sixth, as he threw 11 pitches over 98 mph in two scoreless, hitless innings with four strikeouts. Trevor May added another scoreless, hitless inning with a slight dip in velocity as his fastest fastball was only 97.6 mph. In the ninth, Edwin Díaz gave up a walk, but struck out the side with 10 pitches over 97 mph, including five over 100.
Just for comparison, the Rockies four pitchers (Freeland, González, Tyler Kinley, and Robert Stephenson) had only one pitch above 96 mph when Stephenson threw one fastball at 99.3 mph.
Bud Black was blown away by the heat in the postgame press conference. “I gotta look at this, but I am not sure I have seen a game where every opponent’s fastball was over 95 mph. That was something that – maybe we’ll see that in the future – but that was to say the least impressive arm strength by the Mets staff,” Black said. “That’s what’s going on with baseball now as we know– velocity. The Mets showed it tonight. That’s something that I have never seen in 40-plus years in baseball.”
Freeland decent in return
K-Free looked good, despite some control issues possibly due to nerves and the excitement of being back. While he only lasted four innings, he only gave up one run on four hits with three walks and one hit batter. He also struck out five Mets, including four strikeouts looking. The shoulder seemed fine as Freeland was getting 95 mph on his fastballs and whiffs on his slider, sinker, and changeup. His pitch count hit 74 after four because he had baserunners in every inning and only faced the minimum in the fourth when he got a little help from a nice tag when deGrom tried to stretch a single to a double. In his two Triple-A rehab starts, Freeland had 66 pitches in his first four-inning outing and then had 79 pitches in his second start in six innings. As a first step back to the big leagues, this was a successful outing for Freeland.
McMahon shines again
With the Rockies only getting three hits in the game, at least one was a homer. McMahon, who homered in his second straight game, blasted a 99.9 mph deGrom fastball 391 feet to center field. McMahon is now tied for second in the National League with 13 homers.
McMahon also made another outstanding play at third base in the bottom of the fourth inning. When Cameron Maybin hit a slow chopper between short and third, McMahon grabbed it bare-handed and then regripped it midstride to throw out Maybin at first.
Brenden Rodgers accounted for the other two hits for the Rockies. Hitting two singles, Rodgers is now hitting .364/.417/.364 in 11 at-bats over three games since being called up from his Triple-A rehab assignment.
Hold the tag, win the review
The Mets removed themselves from the basepaths three times, twice due to steady tags and reply reviews. The first throwout came in the third inning when Jonathan Villar led off with a double and then tried to steal third. He made it in plenty of time, but his headfirst slide caused his body to momentarily lose contact with the bag. Ryan McMahon held the tag on and, after a replay review, Villar was called out. After that, the Mets hit a single and drew two walks in what would have led to at least one run scored if someone had still been on base.
In the fourth, it was déjà vu all over again when deGrom hit a two-out single and tried to stretch it into a double. deGrom beat Charlie Blackmon’s throw, but his foot lifted off the bag while Trevor Story held the tag on and the inning was ended after another successful video review. In the sixth inning, Villar tried to steal second after a single. The Rockies saw it coming, called a pitchout, and Dom Nuñez gunned down Villar in plenty of time. No video reply necessary.
The Rockies and Mets will be back in action for the third game in their four-game series on Wednesday night when Germán Márquez (3-4, 4.82 ERA) will face off against Marcus Stroman (3-4, 2.75 ERA). Game time is set for 5:10 p.m. MT.