Sports

Marcus Stroman dazzles as Mets win nail-biter

DENVER — As electric as the Jacob deGrom show was a day earlier, the methodical approach Sunday of his rotation-mate might have been just as impressive.

Marcus Stroman dazzled, in an efficient manner, carrying the Mets on a day Rocky Mountain hibernation prevailed over a Coors Field explosion for their lineup.

Eight innings, one run allowed on three hits, 90 pitches. That performance from Stroman led a 2-1 victory over the Rockies in front of 15,082 — a large percentage of whom were cheering for the Mets.

“I always love going deep into games,” Stroman said. “So going into the eighth, ninth, seventh, that is something I honestly want to do each and every start. Give the bullpen a break as well as keep my team in position to win super-late into games.”

This nail-biter wasn’t complete until a replay review confirmed that James McCann threw out Trevor Story attempting to steal second base with two outs in the ninth after Story had singled against Edwin Diaz. The Mets won for the fifth time in six games and will spend an off day in Chicago preparing for a series against the Cubs.

Stroman (3-0) didn’t dent until the seventh, when Charlie Blackmon followed Story’s double with an RBI single that pulled the Rockies within 2-1. But Stroman recovered to strike out C.J. Cron and Garrett Hampson in succession to escape the inning. Stroman had extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings before Blackmon’s single.

Marcus Stroman helps carry Mets to a win on Sunday.
Marcus Stroman helps carry Mets to a win on Sunday.
AP

Though many pitchers become victims of the Colorado altitude, Stroman has thrived at Coors Field, where he pitched seven scoreless innings for the Mets in September 2019.

“I think my stuff plays well here,” he said. “I don’t change my game plan much. I think because I throw an elite sinker I think I do a good job of being able to keep the ball on the ground no matter what park I go to and I think it plays here as well.”

On Saturday, deGrom matched a career high with 14 strikeouts, which included nine straight (one short of the MLB record established by Tom Seaver). Stroman struck out only five, relying on his cutter/slider/sinker mix to induce grounders and keep the ball in play.

“Right now he’s really confident in inducing contact,” manager Luis Rojas said. “That is what he did in the first two [games] and that is why he got to the eighth inning. We were confident enough that he was going back there and he was going to face at least the first three batters.”

Adding to his pitching excellence, Stroman had a fielding gem, reaching behind his back on Josh Fuentes’ grounder in the eighth and hurling an off-balance, five-hopper to first base that Pete Alonso secured for the out. Stroman pointed toward the Mets dugout after the play.

“My guys were all hyping me up and just hyping them up and just letting them know that’s why I have got a Gold Glove,” Stroman said. “My guys are always top-stepping it whenever there is a big-time play or whenever I’m putting energy out there, so I was just kind of giving it back to them.”

Michael Conforto’s double in the second inning led to the Mets scoring a run on Jeff McNeil’s RBI groundout. That rally started with Alonso’s single leading off the inning.

Cron’s fielding error on McNeil’s grounder in the fourth led to an unearned run that scored on J.D. Davis’ RBI single. Conforto’s two-out single ignited that rally.

Stroman allowed a single to Raimel Tapia leading off the game, but got Ryan McMahon to hit into a double play. In the third, Stroman walked Dom Nunez and received the benefit of a call when it was ruled Francisco Lindor’s drop on a throw to second base on Antonio Senzatela’s bunt came after Lindor established control.

Stroman received a defensive boost in the fourth, when Brandon Nimmo raced to the fence in right-center to snag Story’s long drive.

“I thought today [Stroman] did a great job of limiting the damage,” Conforto said. “He’s just relentless around the zone, around the edges, everything is moving a different direction … he’s a smart pitcher and knows what he is doing out there.”

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