NEW YORK (AP) — Jacob deGrom doesn’t give up much on the mound. Fortunately for his opponents, sometimes it doesn’t take a whole lot to beat him, either.
Christian Vázquez hit an early RBI double, producing the only run required for the Boston Red Sox to slip past deGrom and the punchless New York Mets 1-0 on Wednesday night.
Nick Pivetta (3-0) and three relievers combined on a two-hitter as the surprising AL East leaders swept a two-game interleague series at Citi Field, outscoring the Mets 3-1 while improving to 8-1 on the road.
“That was fun. The two games were fun,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “That’s what baseball is all about. Good pitching. Good defense.”
Xander Bogaerts doubled off the left-center fence to open the second inning and, one out later, Vázquez drove a shoulder-high 0-2 heater clocked at 100 mph the other way into the right-center gap.
“I was looking fastball. I was looking up in the zone,” Vázquez said. “I hit it good.”
After that, deGrom (2-2) held Boston off the scoreboard — but the Mets couldn’t muster anything at the plate in their latest offensive flop with the two-time Cy Young Award winner on the mound. Lack of support has been a troubling theme throughout his stellar career, leaving him with 72 wins in eight seasons despite the lowest ERA in franchise history.
He’s allowed two earned runs all year — and lost two games.
“I try not to think too much about it,” deGrom said. “I’m more disappointed that I wasn’t able to make pitches there in the second inning. I was trying to battle through but just left some balls over the middle of the plate that got hit. So, that comes down to me controlling what I can control and I didn’t do a good job of that in that second inning.”
The right-hander struck out nine and walked one in six innings of three-hit ball. He needed 10 pitches in the third to strike out Pivetta, who fouled off six in a feisty at-bat.
“I think that’s a hit for us,” Vázquez said. “It was fun to see that.”
DeGrom was coming off a career-high 15 strikeouts without a walk in a two-hit shutout of Washington last Friday when he retired his final 19 batters.
He fanned at least 14 in each of his past three starts, joining Pedro Martinez and Gerrit Cole as the only pitchers to accomplish that feat.
“DeGrom is an incredible pitcher. It’s always a lot of fun facing guys like him,” Pivetta said. “You’ve got to keep the ballgame close. You’ve got to compete with him. You’ve got to stay in the same rhythm as him the whole entire game.”
DeGrom’s 0.51 ERA is the best for a Mets pitcher through five starts, and his 59 strikeouts match Nolan Ryan for the most in major league history over the first five outings of a season.
Ryan racked up his Ks in 1978 with the Angels.
“Kind of displeased with my mechanics,” said deGrom, who threw 93 pitches. “Everything seemed to be flat. Just wasn’t able to make pitches when I needed to.”
Pivetta whiffed seven in five innings, allowing one hit and three walks. Garrett Whitlock had four strikeouts in two innings of one-hit ball, and Adam Ottavino worked a hitless eighth as restless Mets fans in a sold-out crowd of 8,051 booed the team’s struggling hitters.
“Really there’s no excuse,” catcher James McCann said. “We have to find a way, especially in a game like tonight. … You’ve got to find a way to win those games.”
Matt Barnes struck out all three batters in the ninth for his sixth save, sealing Boston’s first shutout of the season.
Of the 64 hitters in the game, 30 struck out — 15 for each team. The Red Sox managed only four hits and still beat deGrom.
“For him to only go six, quote-unquote, right, it was a moral victory for our guys,” Cora said. “At the end, one run was enough.”
Boston pitching also dominated the series opener in a 2-1 victory Tuesday.
“We’re executing everything,” said Vázquez, the Red Sox backstop. “It’s amazing to watch this.”
Red Sox: OF Alex Verdugo was back in the starting lineup after entering as a defensive replacement Tuesday night. Verdugo had a hamstring cramp Saturday and sat out Sunday. … Christian Arroyo was doing well and available off the bench, Cora said, adding the infielder will probably start one of the games in Texas this weekend. Arroyo was hit by a pitch on his left hand Sunday.
Mets: CF Brandon Nimmo was back in the starting lineup after pinch-hitting Tuesday night. Nimmo received a cortisone injection Monday for an impingement in his right hip.
The Mets claimed catcher Deivy Grullón off waivers from Tampa Bay and optioned him to the alternate training site.
Red Sox: LHP Martín Pérez (0-1, 5.71 ERA) starts Thursday night against RHP Kyle Gibson (2-0, 2.30) when Boston opens a four-game series at Texas.
Mets: After their second day off this week Thursday, the Mets send RHP Marcus Stroman (3-1, 2.25 ERA) to the mound Friday night in Philadelphia against RHP Chase Anderson (0-3, 6.48).
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