How can you have a recap when you don’t have a final score yet?
When that final score’s yet to be recorded but the show everyone came to see is over. That’s how.
No offense to Seth Lugo, Steve Cishek or whatever Met and Cub relievers follow them when the game resumes, tied 1-1, in the 10th. Maybe reaching a conclusion will take mere minutes. Maybe it will require hours. And — because you never know — perhaps it will be an epic, a spiritual descendant of the night the Mets and Braves played all night and 3 a.m. fireworks left Atlantans worrying that a spectral General Sherman had returned to wreak further havoc.
But the teams will have to work pretty hard to create anything as dramatic or impressive as Jacob deGrom’s Tuesday night performance.
We need to order some more superlatives for the Mets’ ace as his unbelievable season — with that word earned in so many ways — rolls along. DeGrom was his usual dominant self on the mound, hitting 100 MPH in erasing Javy Baez and later all but eviscerating Daniel Murphy in a key spot. He was a wizard with the glove, denying the Cubs a run in the fourth by spearing a Kyle Schwarber grounder and finishing his night by pouncing on an eighth-inning grounder from Victor Caratini to turn a critical double play. And he was the Mets’ MVP at the plate, rolling a perfectly placed little single through the 5.5 hole to score Todd Frazier in the sixth.
Alas, that was the only run the Mets would score. Give some credit to Cole Hamels, who was pretty respectable himself for five innings. Assign some blame to the mean-spirited BABIP gods: Jeff McNeil led off the seventh with a booming triple that the wind downgraded from a home run, then had to perform two hasty reversals off third as first Austin Jackson and then Michael Conforto absolutely smoked line drives off Jorge de la Rosa. Jackson’s drive nearly took Baez’s hand off and Conforto’s slammed into Anthony Rizzo’s glove, leaving the Mets with nothing for their efforts.
That meant deGrom was working with his usual minimal support, and it cost him a chance for a victory in the seventh. Ben Zobrist hit a sharp ground ball under Jay Bruce’s glove, giving the Cubs runners at the corners and the chance to score a run without another hit, which they soon did. It was a play Bruce should have made, but beware the easy narrative: our latest first baseman probably not of the future had made a great diving stop in the bottom of the second, denying Caratini a leadoff double. And other Mets had deGrom’s back, at least when gloves were involved: Brandon Nimmo ran down Murphy’s drive into the right-field corner in the first, and Jackson made a fine running catch in the sixth.
But the line score’s the thing, and it told the same old depressing story: deGrom was fantastic but left with no chance at a win. And when he departed, so did the crackle and zip of an otherwise meaningless game for the Mets. The Mets with deGrom on the hill are a must-see show; the Mets without him are a low-budget snooze. And Mother Nature agreed, washing away any thought that the teams would be able to play a 10th inning.
Honestly, that was the perfect ending, but baseball rules dictate that a more quantitative conclusion be reached. The two teams will do so later today. Here’s hoping the Mets win, of course. But even if they earn their bows, the star of the show will have already left the building.