NEW YORK (AP) - Jacob deGrom took the mound with a disappointing record, but with the full backing of his manager.
The rookie right-hander rewarded Terry Collins’ confidence with the strongest outing of his young career.
DeGrom struck out 11 in seven shutout innings and also delivered a table-setting hit from the No. 8 spot in the batting order as the New York Mets tagged All-Star Julio Teheran and the Atlanta Braves 8-3 Tuesday night.
“Showed you that he can certainly compete in this league,” Collins praised.
The shaggy-haired deGrom (2-5) pitched the Mets to their third win in a row, and the franchise’s 4,000th victory since starting out as an expansion team in 1962. Atlanta has lost three straight.
The lanky 26-year-old scattered seven hits, walked none and matched a career best for strikeouts.
“Feel I had my best start,” deGrom said. “Controlling every pitch I needed to.”
DeGrom said he got most of his strikeouts on “elevated fastballs and sinkers,” though he felt his most effective pitch was his curveball.
“Knows what he’s got to do to get a K when he needs it, and just goes out and does it,” Collins said.
The Mets set a team record at Citi Field with 18 hits.
Curtis Granderson kept up his resurgence with a leadoff home run and Lucas Duda doubled twice, singled and drew two walks. Daniel Murphy also doubled twice and third baseman David Wright added two hits and made a nifty catch.
DeGrom’s single led to a three-run burst in the second inning, and he exited as a 6-for-22 (.273) hitter in the majors, part of the reason Collins felt comfortable in tweaking his lineup.
“Don’t really care where I bat. More focused on the pitching,” deGrom said.
Said Collins: “Way too much made of the pitcher hitting eighth. I’ll need to call La Russa and tell him he created a huge monster.”
Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa holds the record for most times batting his pitcher eighth in a season - few other skippers have followed his lead since.