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It went from a party to a church gathering fast for the Mets on Friday night.
One moment, the largest crowd in two years at Citi Field was living it up, showering Jacob deGrom with chants of “MVP.” The next, the fans were silent, holding their collective breath, wondering why the best pitcher in the sport was taken out after six dominant innings and just 80 pitches.
There was a reason for it. The Mets announced, during their 3-2 victory over the Padres, that deGrom has right flexor tendinitis, interrupting his magical season again. He was seen talking to trainers after the top half of the sixth inning and walking in the tunnel toward the clubhouse.
In recent starts, since returning May 25 from a stint on the injured list for tightness in his right side and back, deGrom’s pitch count had been limited. He had yet to throw more than 85 pitches in those four starts.
Losing deGrom would be a crippling blow for the Mets, who already are without starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard for the foreseeable future. They added a depth starter on Friday by picking up Nick Tropeano off waivers from the Giants.
Even after they lost deGrom, the Mets were still able to hold on, despite a two-run home run by the Padres’ Jake Cronenworth off Miguel Castro in the seventh inning. Seth Lugo, Aaron Loup and Edwin Diaz combined for the final eight outs as the Mets (31-24) improved to seven games over .500 for the first time this year.
When he was in the game, deGrom continued his sheer brilliance, both on the mound and at the plate. He struck out 10 over six shutout, one-hit innings and increased his batting average to an even .400 with a two-run single in the fifth. He lowered his ERA to 0.56, a record through 10 starts.
The Padres managed just one base-runner — Wil Myers on an opposite field single in the fifth inning — against deGrom, who reached double-digit strikeouts for the fifth time this year.
He retired the first 13 Padres he faced and struck out megastar Fernando Tatis Jr. twice. With his fourth inning strikeout of Tatis, deGrom reached 100 punchouts on the season in just 61 ²/₃ innings, the fastest ever for a pitcher since the mound was moved to its current distance of 60 feet, 6 inches in 1893.
DeGrom finally allowed a hit in the fifth, after striking out the side in the fourth. With one out, Myers sprayed a 3-2 slider over the middle of the plate into the hole between first and second base, ending the no-hit bid.
Two pitches later, Myers was erased trying to steal second base by catcher James McCann. The Pades didn’t get another baserunner against deGrom.
Jonathan Villar had the Mets’ first two hits, and nearly started a big rally in the fourth. After Villar singled and stole second, Padres starter Blake Snell walked McCann and Pete Alonso, loading the bases with one out. But Dom Smith committed to a first-pitch slider, and his half-swing produced a 1-2-3 double play that got Snell out of the inning.
The Mets broke through in the following inning. Kevin Pillar led off with a double and Billy McKinney doubled him home to break the ice. After Jose Peraza walked and Snell balked the runners to second and third, deGrom laced a 1-2 fastball in left-center field to make it 3-0.