BUFFALO — Jacob deGrom is a spoiled man when it comes to run support.
Those words have seldom been uttered before and may never be again, but in the present they hold true for the Mets ace.
As deGrom pursues a third straight NL Cy Young award, the lineup around him continues to sizzle. Friday night that meant another Mets performance of at least two touchdowns in a deGrom start, as they pounded the Blue Jays 18-1 at Sahlen Field. With deGrom on the mound last Sunday, the Mets scored 14 runs in a victory over the Phillies, hitting five home runs.
The Mets, who began play two games behind the Marlins for the NL’s second wild-card spot, won their second straight to remain firmly in the postseason hunt.
“The way the guys are swinging the bat right now I feel like we are in every game,” deGrom said.
By the fourth inning the only drama revolved around whether deGrom’s NL-leading ERA would drop. Mission accomplished, as deGrom allowed one earned run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings, lowering his ERA from 1.69 to 1.67. DeGrom has three remaining starts scheduled for this season.
On a chilly night, deGrom’s biggest challenge might have been staying loose during the extended innings.
“There wasn’t really anywhere to throw in-between and with as cool as it was I probably would have,” deGrom said. “They had some heaters [in the dugout] I was trying to stay in front of and just trying to stay loose.”
Dominic Smith’s first career grand slam highlighted a 10-run fourth inning in which the Mets took batting practice against Anthony Kay and Jacob Waguespack and the Blue Jays slogged defensively.
Kay, a former Mets farmhand who went to the Blue Jays in the trade last summer that delivered Marcus Stroman, allowed six runs on four hits and two walks in the inning. One of the runs was unearned after catcher Danny Jansen dropped a throw from shortstop Santiago Espinal on J.D. Davis’ grounder with the bases loaded.
The Mets’ fun was just starting. Smith cleared the right-field fence for the grand slam (his eighth homer of the season) that gave the Mets a 9-1 lead, before they started another rally in the inning. After Robinson Cano and Jeff McNeil each singled against Waguespack and Andres Gimenez was drilled near the hand to load the bases, Ramos stroked a three-run double. Another run scored when Lourdes Gurriel Jr., had difficulty handling Michael Conforto’s line drive to left that went for a single. The carnage in the inning was complete with Davis’ RBI single.
“[DeGrom] goes out there every fifth day and he grinds every start,” Smith said. “For him to be so tough on hitters, we just want to back him up with some runs.”
Conforto smashed a two-run homer in the third, picking up where he stopped Wednesday when his highlight-reel catch with his back to the infield and homer helped the Mets rebound to beat the Orioles.
Ramos enjoyed a breakout night at the plate, finishing 3-for-5 with four RBIs. Included was a solo homer in the eighth.
Toronto’s first defensive letdown of the night helped the Mets score a gift run to take a 4-1 lead. McNeil hit a fly ball to right that Cavan Biggo didn’t see until it landed in front of him.
DeGrom’s lone run allowed came in the first, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr., hit a shot off the right-field fence for an RBI single. Erasmo Ramirez mopped up with three innings of scoreless relief.
“A game like this will give a real good breather to our bullpen,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Our bullpen has been used a lot, we’ve had a lot of short outings from starting pitchers, a game like this after a day off helps.”
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