Brandon Nimmo scales wall to rob HR as Jacob deGrom, Mets top Dodgers at raucous Citi Field
The only person who could get to Jacob deGrom on Wednesday was arguably the best player in the National League. The play of the night, though, came from one of the senior circuit’s most underrated players.
In the Mets’ 2-1 win over the Dodgers, the only Dodger run came from a Mookie Betts solo home run in the sixth inning. Everyone else in the Dodgers’ lineup went 2-for-24 off the two-time Cy Young winner. He struck out nine hitters and walked one, with the only two non-Betts hits going for measly singles. There would have been one more, very crushing hit, but some of the best outfield defense you’ll ever see kept that from happening.
Perhaps most encouraging, the Mets left deGrom in for a full seven innings, the first time this season that he’s recorded 21 outs in a game.
“Tonight, against the Dodgers, that was a great atmosphere,” deGrom said, noting yet again that after ramping up to a new season-high in innings, his arm felt fine. “The fans were in it the whole time, and that makes it a lot of fun. You’re playing important baseball.”
One of those outs, though, stands far, far above the rest.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh inning, deGrom’s 0-1 fastball to Justin Turner caught a little too much plate. He said after the game that the pitch was meant to be down in the strike zone and he missed his target. Turner whistled a line drive that was headed over the center field wall, which would have sent the rabid Citi Field crowd into a state of despondency. Instead, they let out a joyous cry in unison when Brandon Nimmo leapt into the wall and came back with the catch of his life.
“I knew it was hit well off the bat,” Nimmo said. “My concern was just getting back to the fence as quick as I could. But it was hit on a line, so I didn’t have time to look back at the wall. Fortunately, from playing out there a lot now, I had a feeling that I was near the wall and needed to go ahead and jump.”
“What a play,” Buck Showalter said. “When you look at minor-league players, one of the questions I ask is, ‘Can they turn hits into outs?’ I never ask if they can turn home runs into outs. Maybe I should. I don’t have much to compare that to.”
In the span of about five seconds, Nimmo saved the lead, deGrom’s chance for a win, and the energy of the crowd while showing the most on-field emotion of his career. The catch sent Nimmo into relative hysterics, screaming, pumping his fists and dapping up his fellow outfielders. Watching from the mound, deGrom seemed to be in disbelief, raising his arms to the heavens while a “I can’t believe that happened” look invaded his face.
Nimmo was asked what led to him showing so much emotion after the play.
“This had a playoff feel to it,” Nimmo said. “These are two really good teams going at it. Every little thing matters in these games. The culmination of the atmosphere, the teams that are playing and how important these games are becoming down the stretch.”
As Nimmo continues having the best all-around season of his career, on the eve of his free agency winter, the center fielder now has a play to lead his 2022 highlight reel. Any questions about whether he can hack it as a long-term option in center field should be directed to this play, in which a perfect marriage of speed, route to the ball, and defensive ability combined for an iconic moment of this Mets’ season.
“The timing was right on it, and everything worked out just perfectly,” said Nimmo, who declared that the best catch of his career.
The offense didn’t do much, but Starling Marte’s two-run homer was enough to put them near the finish line, and deGrom, Nimmo and the bullpen got them across. Adam Ottavino was spectacular in his one inning of work, getting Joey Gallo, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts to complete the eighth inning. Ottavino’s 1-2-3 mastery of the Dodgers prevented the go-ahead run from coming to the plate and also set up another electric moment.
With the Mets’ leading going into the ninth inning, Showalter brought in Edwin Diaz for the first time since Friday. More importantly, that meant Timmy Trumpet could play Diaz in. As the dominant closer made his bouncy jaunt from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound, Timmy Trumpet played a live rendition of his earworm riff from “Narco”, which has accompanied Diaz to the mound all season.
“It was pretty fun,” Diaz said. “I tried to look up a little bit when I was running to see the reaction from the fans. I could feel the vibe from the fans. It was really exciting.”
Hearing it from Trumpet himself, rather than the stadium’s PA system, seemed to make Diaz even harder to hit.
Trea Turner was his first victim, striking out on three pitches. Then it was time for Freddie Freeman to bite the dust. He grounded out harmlessly to second base. Will Smith made the last out with a grounder to third. Good morning, good afternoon, good night, and don’t forget to tip the trumpet player.