September 24, 2022


I am playing

NEW YORK – Camera phones were removed before the first pitch.

Decibel levels usually saved for late in the game were reached before the first inning.

The love fest for Jacob deGrom began in the opening warmups, when a raucous crowd and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” welcomed him back to Citi Field. The cheers are back after each of his 12 hits.

DeGrom pitched a perfect game into the sixth inning Sunday in his second start of the season and first in Queens in exactly 13 months. It was a vintage performance for the Mets right-hander who missed a full calendar year with elbow and shoulder problems.

It started a glorious weekend for the Mets, who took four of five games against their NL East rival Braves with a 5-2 victory.

DeGrom retired the first 17 batters before walking Ehire Adrianza and chasing him from the game on Dansby Swanson’s two-run bullpen home run to center.

His battle with fellow flamethrower Spencer Strider not only lived up to expectations. He surpassed them.

The Mets (70-39) are now 31 games over .500 for the season. It’s their highest total since they went 32 games in the 2006 season. They extended their lead in the NL East to 6.5 games.

DeGrom set an MLB record in the process, passing Yu Darvish for most hits in 200 career games, with 1,523. He left to a standing ovation after 76 pitches. Joely Rodriguez threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief and Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth to pick up the save.

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The Mets gave deGrom an early lead by scoring four runs in the third inning. The top of the lineup started the rally with Brandon Nimmo hitting an infield single and Francisco Lindor reaching on a bloop single to left.

Pete Alonso capitalized with a two-run double that blasted off the third base bag and into left field. The lucky bounce helped Alonso collect his 94th and 95th RBI of the season to extend an NL lead.

“With Pete, I think sometimes we miss what a good hitter he is,” manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s why you’re always looking for power. It’s his ability to throw a ball over the inside on a pitch that most of us would be picking the fragments out of our hands.”

Mark Canha drove in two more runs later in the inning with a leadoff double to left center. Daniel Vogelbach motored in to score from first on a slight bunt by Braves outfielder Michael Harris II.

The Mets tacked on another run in the fifth when Jeff McNeil homered on Colin McHugh’s wild pitch.



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