DENVER — Jacob deGrom struck out nine straight batters against Colorado on Saturday, falling one shy of matching Tom Seaver’s major league record.
He fell short of the record and nearly missed a win.
DeGrom finished with 14 strikeouts to lead the New York Mets over the Rockies 4-3 in a doubleheader opener. He threw his last pitch trailing and wound up with a win for just the third time — the first since 2015.
Seaver set the record against San Diego on April 22, 1970, striking out his final 10 batters in a 19-strikeout performance.
“That would have been nice to reach but fell a little short,” deGrom said with a smile.
Coming off a 14-strikeout performance in a 3-0 loss to Miami, deGrom became just the ninth pitcher to strike out as many as nine in a row.
“The fastball was the best weapon for him,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “It’s special. You don’t see that often. You talk about Jake getting better every year and he goes out there, and we talked about the challenge of the weather, so it’s a little bit of a different start. He makes an adjustment and does something special.”
The streak ended in the fifth inning, when the Rockies took a 3-1 lead with three unearned runs, but the Mets rallied to win a series opener delayed a day by snow when pinch-hitter Jonathan Villar hit a score-tying double off Daniel Bard (0-1) in the seventh inning and Dominic Smith had a sacrifice fly.
Pete Alonso had homered in the sixth to pull the Mets within a run.
By winning the opener of a doubleheader of seven-inning games under coronavirus protocols, the Mets extended their winning streak to four for the first time since 2019.
DeGrom (1-0) allowed three unearned runs and three hits in six innings and walked one, lowering his ERA to 0.45.
He started the streak with a called third strike against Josh Fuentes for the first out of the second inning, then got Sam Hilliard and Dom Nunez swinging.
He struck out Chi Chi Gonzalez, Raimel Tapia and Ryan McMahon in the third and Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and C.J. Cron in the fourth.
Fuentes grounded an 0-1 pitch leading off the fifth and reached on a throwing error by second baseman Jeff McNeil, ending the streak.
“I would have liked to have fielded it, but my glove hit my leg,” deGrom said of Fuentes’ grounder. “That’s where we had him played. McNeil was there and he felt bad about it. I told him, ‘Keep your head up,’ and we ended up winning the ballgame.”
Detroit reliever Tyler Alexander was the previous pitcher to strike out nine in a row, accomplishing the feat Aug. 2, 2020, against Cincinnati.
Colorado took a 3-1 lead against deGrom later in the fifth when Nunez hit an RBI triple, pinch-hitter Yonathan Daza hit a sacrifice fly and Tapia homered. All three runs were unearned because of McNeil’s error.
Despite deGrom’s 2.03 ERA in 79 starts since the start of the 2018 season coming in, New York was 37-42 with him on the mound.
With nine strikeouts in a row, deGrom matched the New York Giants’ Mickey Welch against Cleveland on Aug. 28, 1884; San Diego’s Jake Peavy at Arizona on April 25, 2007; the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco at Atlanta on Sept. 30, 2009; the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Aaron Harang against San Diego on April 13, 2012; Detroit’s Doug Fister against Kansas City on Sept. 27, 2012; Washington’s Max Scherzer against the Mets on Oc. 3, 2015; and Alexander.
DeGrom extended his road unbeaten streak to 17 with the 48th double-digit strikeout game for the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner.
Edwin Diaz struck out the side for his first save this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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