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Jacob deGrom unearthed a new skill on Thursday night: The ability to turn a three-run first inning into a 14-strikeout night.
In Thursday’s 4-3 walk-off loss to the Braves, deGrom’s final line was seven innings pitched with three earned runs and 14 strikeouts on 93 pitches.
He retired the final 18 batters he faced and at one point had eight straight strikeouts.
It was vintage deGrom -- except for the first frame, where he allowed three hits and three runs, lowlighted by Austin Riley’s two-run home run to right field.
“That’s a tough one,” said deGrom after the game. “I gotta tip my hat to Riley over there. I came in, I was really frustrated. I said to James (McCann), ‘How did he hit that?’ Felt like I made my pitch and he was able to get a bat to it and hit it over the fence.”
The pitch: A 100 MPH fastball off the right side of the plate.
“I said to [pitching coach Jeremy Hefner], I said, ‘That’s all they get,” added deGrom.
He was right. After allowing runners to reach first and third to start the second inning, deGrom finally settled in, striking out the side in the second, fourth and fifth innings.
“I had to turn the page there and put zeroes the rest of the game,” he said. “... It’s just unfortunate how it ended, with a ball not leaving the infield.”
After that first inning, deGrom’s ERA briefly rose above one for the first time in 2021. It dipped back down following his six straight scoreless innings and settled at 0.95.