PHILADELPHIA -- The signature performance of Jacob deGrom's four-year career remains, without question, the 2015 National League Division Series Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. The six innings of two-run ball deGrom threw that night did not even approach his best statistical performance. But deGrom's ability to guide his team to the later innings, despite obviously lacking his usual control, has stuck with the Mets ever since.
While the stakes may have been lower on Monday, deGrom again put that ability on display against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. As in Game 5, he gave up two runs in the first inning. As in Game 5, he recovered to keep the opposition scoreless for five more after that.
The result was six innings of two-run ball in a 4-3 win that greatly resembled deGrom's most memorable professional triumph.
"That's exactly what it looked like," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Early Monday evening, deGrom bemoaned his lack of feel for his slider, eventually ditching that pitch and turning more to his curveball. He walked two batters in the first, including one with the bases loaded, and allowed three hits. Only a Brock Stassi inning-ending double play saved deGrom from an even more damaging beginning.
But deGrom transformed after that. Relying heavily on his curveball, the right-hander worked around a two-on, one-out jam in the third inning, then retired the final eight batters he faced. He finished with three strikeouts, the second of them No. 500 for his career. Most importantly from deGrom's perspective, he kept the Mets hanging around long enough for Jay Bruce to hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth.
"It's satisfying to keep the team in there," deGrom said, "but [you] definitely don't want a first inning like that all the time. That's not fun."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.