The New York Mets have scored two or fewer runs in eight of their last 11 games.
Fortunately, their best pitcher — and arguably best hitter — will be on the mound and in the lineup Saturday afternoon.
New York’s Jacob deGrom looks to continue his dominance when he faces the visiting Philadelphia Phillies in the third contest of a four-game series between the National League East rivals.
deGrom (7-2, 0.50 ERA) is slated to oppose Zach Eflin (2-6, 4.39) in a battle of right-handers.
The teams split a doubleheader in mirror-like fashion Friday. The Mets posted a 2-1 win in eight innings in the opener before the Phillies eked out their own 2-1 victory in eight innings in the nightcap.
If not for the Phillies’ porous defense, the Mets might have been blanked in both games. New York trailed 1-0 entering the seventh of each contest before tying the game thanks to errors by pitcher Jose Alvarado and third baseman Alec Bohm, respectively.
The Mets finished with just nine hits combined over the two games. They also were handcuffed in the opener against Aaron Nola, who struck out 10 straight batters between the first and fourth innings to tie the big league record set by New York ace Tom Seaver in 1970.
Dominic Smith, who delivered the walk-off RBI single in the opener, pointed to the Mets’ place atop the NL East standings as evidence it was too early to worry about the lack of offense.
“It’s never concerning when you’re in first place,” Smith said of the Mets’ four-game lead over the second-place Washington Nationals. “We’re finding ways to get the job done. Obviously, we’re not going to win every game. If we did, we’ll be 162-0, which is, like, impossible.”
The Mets have plenty of reason for optimism with deGrom set to take the mound on Saturday. The two-time NL Cy Young Award recipient extended his scoreless streak to 30 innings Monday, when he allowed one hit over five frames to help the Mets post a 4-2 win in the opener of a doubleheader.
deGrom, the first pitcher to allow one earned run or fewer in 12 straight starts, has more RBIs at the plate (six) than earned runs allowed (four). He went 0-for-1 on Monday to see his batting average drop to .407.
The win in the nightcap was a much-needed one for the Phillies, who have lost seven of 10 and were coming off a 13-12 setback to the Nationals on Wednesday in which they squandered five- and four-run leads.
A defeat in Friday’s second game would have amplified how bizarrely the Phillies lost the opener. Alvarado was charged with a two-base error after his throw sailed over the head of first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who had his sunglasses atop his head as he lost the ball in the sun.
“I think it was real important that we bounced back,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “You don’t lose too many games where a first baseman loses the ball in the sun.”
Eflin took the loss in his most recent start Sunday, when he gave up seven runs (six earned) over five innings in an 11-2 setback to the San Francisco Giants.
deGrom has an 8-1 record with a 2.25 ERA in 18 career starts against the Phillies.
Eflin is 3-4 with a 5.00 ERA in 12 career starts vs. the Mets.
–Field Level Media