Now we’re getting to the good stuff. With the arrival of the Final Four of our Amazin’ Ten countdown, we’re set to bring you the coming of superstars, the swansongs of veterans, and the two best Mets TV calls of 2014. Let’s start with a matchup of aces: one budding, one fading.
Aug 2, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) delivers a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
#4 – DeGrom Outduels Peavy (or: “Oh, wow!”) [August 2]
This series with the eventual World Series champions was best known for the birth of the greatest accidental personal P.R. boost in major-league history. But when Hunter Pence and the Giants visited Citi Field for the second game in a four-game set, the story would turn to a pair of pitchers who joined the rotation midseason.
For New York, it was wunderkind Jacob deGrom, the threequel to the Harvey-Wheeler trilogy that had lit up Flushing radar guns the past three summers. For San Francisco, it was Jake Peavy, who on tap for his second Giants start after being traded from Boston at the deadline. This contest between the Jacob of youth and the Jacob experience was destined to become one of the year’s top pitchers’ duels in all of baseball.
The fireworks began almost immediately. After deGrom and Peavy breezed through perfect first innings, the visitors sent Brandon Belt to the plate with two out and nobody on in the top of the second. On deGrom’s eighth-pitch fastball, Belt pounced and lined it to deep left center. Against anyone else, Belt would have secured himself an easy double. Juan Lagares had other ideas. And as the eventual Gold Glove centerfielder glided back to add more footage to his highlight reel, SNY’s Gary Cohen was inspired with one of the best calls in a Mets game all season.
Aug 2, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) catches a ball hit by San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (not pictured) in the second inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes the best calls are the simple ones. After witnessing scores of incredible feats from the young center fielder, and even with decades of experience under his belt, what more did Gary Cohen need to say about fielding wizard Juan Lagares? “Oh, wow!” was more than enough.
Back to the mound. Aided by that stellar defense, Jacob deGrom methodically mowed down Giant after Giant. Twin strikeouts to end the third. Three easy outs in the fourth. Belt ruined the perfect game by drawing a walk in the fifth, but deGrom worked around the base runner and kept another from reaching in the sixth. Through two-thirds of the game, Brother Jacob was working on a no-hitter.
And so was Peavy. Still in the honeymoon phase of reuniting with the National League for the first time in five years, the 2007 Cy Young laureate had made easy work of Mets hitters. Easy through the third. Triplet groundouts in the fourth. Effortless fifth and sixth frames. Two-thirds of the way through on a Saturday night in Queens, the Citi Field crowd of 33,687 had witnessed twin no-hitters.
The firework show was approaching its spectacular finale.
First, the pesky 21st out. One out away from seven spotless, deGrom faced Pablo Sandoval. In the same place where Bartolo Colon had lost a perfect game just 10 days earlier and Matt Harvey saw two evaporate in 2013, deGrom saw his bid for history gobbled up by a Sandoval double. To his credit, Brother Jacob never flinched. A standing ovation and Michael Morse groundout later, he was through the seventh with the shutout still in tact.
Peavy, meanwhile, still had his own perfect game in tact. In a classic case of one-upmanship, New York spoiled their guest’s spotless run one man sooner. Daniel Murphy golfed a double to the wall with one out in the bottom of the seventh, and David Wright poked a single into left to put Murph on third. Lucas Duda then drew a hit-by-pitch to load the bases. In a scenario during which the Mets had faltered over and over throughout the year, this was the day when they would finally pull through.
Travis d’Arnaud knocked a sac fly to bring the first run home. Juan Lagares then shot a groundball through the left-side hole to plate the second. And Wilmer Flores completed the trinity with the biggest hit of all: a two-run double down the left field line to make it 4-0. The Mets finally had some breathing room.
It wouldn’t last. Belt and Juan Perez scrapped a single and double off deGrom in the top of the eighth, both coming home on Travis Ishikawa’s base hit. Clearly spent, deGrom made his exit in favor of Jeurys Familia, who promptly put out the fire by striking out Pence and forcing a weak flyout from Brnadon Crawford.
Continuing the tightrope walk into the final frame, Jenrry Mejia allowed a leadoff single to Buster Posey. After Sandoval grounded out and Mejia sent Morse down on strikes, Belt finally got a line drive down in the outfield for a game-extending single. With the tying runs aboard, panic literally strode to the plate in the form of San Francisco’s Joe Panik. But Mejia stood fearless and induced a first-pitch bouncer to second.
With a step on the bag and a stomp in the turf, the Mets had closed out a thrilling 4-2 win over the Giants. With his dominant outing, Jacob deGrom won his fifth straight decision to improve to 6-5, giving him a winning record for the first time in his major-league career. He would remain just as dominant in six of his final seven starts. Juan Lagares continued to make his vast territory a land in which, as Gary Cohen observed, extra-base hits went to die. Two of New York’s brightest stars shined bright that night, and Mets fans can look forward to them shining for years to come.
August 2: the 4th-most Amazin’ game of 2014. On Monday, we’ll revisit another great Juan Lagares moment in game #3.
Amazin’ Ten of 2014