DeGrom’s 0.71 ERA lowest through May since ’64

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Jacob deGrom continues to make history with his otherworldly start to his 2021 season.

In his second start since returning from the injured list, deGrom tossed six scoreless innings in the Mets’ 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks, lowering his ERA to 0.71, the lowest for a qualified starter through the end of May since Chris Short had a 0.64 ERA for the Phillies in 1964.

The Mets’ ace improved to 4-2 with just four earned runs in 51 innings. In his eight starts, he’s allowed no runs three times, one run four times and three unearned runs in a game at Coors Field in April. With eight strikeouts in his six innings on Monday night, he’s now up to 82 with just seven walks.

Before deGrom, the last pitcher with a sub-1.00 ERA through May was Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies in 2010 with a 0.78.

DeGrom didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning on an Arizona night when his fastball was absolutely blistering. Working with an extra day of rest after Sunday night’s game in which he was scheduled to pitch was rained out, four of his pitches in the first inning clocked 101 mph, a velocity he had reached on just three previous pitches all season.

He finished with a ridiculous 27 pitches of 100-plus mph, the third-most in a single game since 2008.

DeGrom admitted the thoughts of a no-hitter entered his head after retiring the first 13 batters. The bid ended with Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly’s single to center in the bottom of the fifth.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t, but we had discussed six innings or 85 pitches, so I think if I would have a perfect game or no-hitter still going, I would have wanted to stay out there,” deGrom said. “I guess when I gave up the hit it made the decision a little easier.”

DeGrom’s eight-game run isn’t impressive just for the start of a season. Since earned runs became official in 1913, the only other pitcher with at least 80 strikeouts and an ERA as low as deGrom’s over an eight-game span was Chris Sale, who had 90 strikeouts with a 0.53 ERA in 51 innings over one eight-start stretch from June to August in 2018.

DeGrom even went 1-for-3 with an RBI at the plate, raising his season average to .450. Opponents are hitting .129 off him.

In case you wondering: Bob Gibson had a 1.53 ERA at the end of May in 1968, when he finished with a 1.12 ERA. After allowing three runs in his first start of June, he then went on a run of epic nature, allowing just three runs (all earned) over his next 11 starts and 99 innings (all complete games), a 0.27 ERA that lowered his season mark to 0.96 at the end of July.

With a 5-0 lead entering the bottom of the seventh, manager Luis Rojas played it conservative and removed deGrom after 70 pitches. For the Mets, it was their fifth straight win on a night of good news. Pete Alonso returned from a two-week stint on the injured list and drove in four runs with a two-run single and a two-run, 442-foot home run in the seventh inning.

Kevin Pillar also returned from multiple facial fractures after getting hit by a pitch on May 17. Wearing a plastic shield to cover his nose, Pillar entered as a defensive replacement in center field and made an excellent running catch at the base of the wall, also going 1-for-1 at the plate.

Reliever Seth Lugo was also activated for the first time all season, although he didn’t pitch.

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