The Citizens Bank Park grounds crew rolled the tarp off the infield Saturday afternoon as the skies cleared over South Philadelphia. The game had been delayed for 41 minutes. And for the Phillies — who fell to the Mets 3-1 — that was not long enough.
The delay was too short to chase Jacob deGrom, who dominated the Phils for his first complete-game of the season. He struck out nine, walked none, allowed seven hits and just one run. The Phillies did not have an answer. The Phillies rallied behind their Cy Young candidate on Friday and then felt on Saturday what it was like to face one.
DeGrom was dominant before the delay, which came in the middle of the fourth inning. And he was just as sharp after it. He struck out Rhys Hoskins to end the eighth with a 98 mph fastball. It was the righthander's 99th pitch and he showed no signs of fading. Perhaps he was only getting stronger. DeGrom ended the game by retiring Nick Williams on three pitches and they were the three fastest pitches he threw all day as he ended the at-bat with a 99.1-mph fastball that Williams grounded to first base.
"He was tough," Williams said. "We got some hits but just couldn't do damage once we got those hits. I guess that's why he has a sub-2.00 ERA. He was tough today, especially tough after this long series. Everything he throws is hard."
The Phillies had their chances against deGrom, who lowered his ERA to 1.71 and is in contention to win the National League Cy Young Award. Williams and Maikel Franco laced one-out singles in the seventh before Odubel Herrera ended the rally with a baserunning gaffe. Franco doubled with two outs in the second and Hoskins doubled with two outs in the sixth but both extra-base hits were followed by outs.
Gabe Kapler considered starting Justin Bour over Carlos Santana because of Bour's past success against deGrom but ultimately decided to stick with Santana. Bour entered Saturday with eight hits in 24 at-bats against deGrom including a homer earlier this year. Santana went 1 for 4 with a single to start the ninth inning. Bour struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.
"I had the conversation with Justin. I said 'Look, I really wanted to find a way to get you in there today but with Jake Arrieta on the mound, it's very important that we put our best defensive infield out there,'" Kapler said. "We want to give him every chance because we know he has a high ground-ball rate and we know he's going to induce a lot of ground balls. We know we're going to have to play sound defense behind him and Carlos is a very, very good defensive first baseman."
DeGrom's outing overshadowed Arrieta, who allowed just one run in six innings as he lowered his ERA to 3.25 after 24 starts. He has allowed two runs or fewer in 16 of those starts as he has been more than dependable behind Aaron Nola. The Mets scored their lone run off Arrieta in the fourth after the pitcher misfired a pickoff throw to first base to allow Jeff McNeil to advance two bases and then score on a single from Todd Frazier. Arrieta relied heavily on his trusted slider and sinker but was also able to keep the Mets honest by sprinkling in an effective curveball, which Kapler said was the best it has been this season.
"Pretty much everything I was throwing out there was good," Arrieta said. "Just the delivery is synched up really well right now, which allows everything to develop and happen naturally. The shape of the curveball is back to where I like it. Just focusing on trying to maintain good arm speed, not necessarily worrying about getting the hand in a certain spot. Just throwing it with conviction and the results have been good."