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Mets ace Jacob deGrom picks up right where he left off, baffling opposing hitters

Jacob deGrom showed no hesitation despite his recent injury scare, hitting 100 miles per hour on 15 of his 70 pitches Monday.
Jacob deGrom showed no hesitation despite his recent injury scare, hitting 100 miles per hour on 15 of his 70 pitches Monday.Mike Stobe/Getty

Jacob deGrom shouldered the load for New York in his return from another injury scare, pitching one-hit ball over five scoreless innings as the Mets beat the visiting Atlanta Braves, 4-2, Monday to open a doubleheader.

DeGrom (7-2) didn’t allow a hit in the seven-inning game until Mets outfielders misplayed a fly ball with two outs in the fifth, letting it fall for a ground-rule double. DeGrom threw 70 pitches, 15 of them over 100 miles per hour, with two walks and six strikeouts — a comfort for fans concerned about New York’s ace after his last start was cut short by shoulder soreness.

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Braves closer Will Smith loaded the bases in the nightcap’s seventh inning but escaped for his 14th save in a 1-0 win. Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 20th homer, and Ian Anderson (5-3) pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out five, to become the first native New Yorker to beat the Mets and Yankees in New York in the same season.

DeGrom put nervy New York fans at ease by striking out Ronald Acuña Jr. with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball to start the game. He struck out two during a perfect first inning and has retired 34 consecutive first-inning hitters, the most in the majors since at least 1961.

“Felt good,” deGrom said. “I think that’s why we decided at that 70-pitch mark to say that was enough, didn’t want to overdo it.”

Jeff McNeil came off the injured list and singled as a pinch hitter for deGrom during New York’s three-run fifth inning. He scored on Dominic Smith’s three-run double.

Ozzie Albies hit a two-run homer off reliever Seth Lugo for the Braves, who had won three of four but were playing their second doubleheader in two days. Kyle Muller (0-1) pitched one-hit ball over four innings, leaving with a 1-0 deficit in his first big league start.

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Mets closer Edwin Díaz finished up the two-hitter, pitching the seventh for his 15th save in 16 chances.

DeGrom has thrown 30 consecutive scoreless innings and his 0.50 ERA is the lowest by a pitcher through 12 starts in major league history. Opponents are hitting .113 against him, the lowest average against any pitcher in a 12-game span since at least 1901, with a minimum 70 innings.

DeGrom also was the first pitcher inspected as part of Major League Baseball’s crackdown on foreign substances. He passed.

Fans booed loudly when plate umpire Ben May halted deGrom on his way off the field after the first inning. Crew chief Ron Kulpa jogged in from third base and asked deGrom for his glove and hat, and deGrom chuckled as he handed them over. Kulpa also asked deGrom to undo his belt buckle and checked for goop there, too.

DeGrom appeared to ask May after the top of the second if he’d need to be inspected again, but May waved him on that time. But he was inspected again after the fifth, and cleared again.

Indians win game, lose Civale

Bobby Bradley and Josh Naylor homered, helping the Cleveland Indians overcome the loss of Aaron Civale during a 4-0 victory over the Cubs in Chicago.

Josh Naylor delivered an offensive jolt for Cleveland in Monday's win.
Josh Naylor delivered an offensive jolt for Cleveland in Monday's win.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Civale, who leads the majors with 10 wins, exited with two out in the fifth inning because of a right middle finger injury. The righthander had a 3-2 count on Eric Sogard when he was visited by manager Terry Francona and a trainer.

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The loss of Civale would be a big blow to Cleveland, already missing ace Shane Bieber and righthander Zach Plesac due to injuries.

Naylor finished with two hits as the Indians improved to 2-2 on a nine-game road trip. They moved within two games of the idle White Sox for the top spot in the AL Central.

After Civale was removed, Bryan Shaw (2-2) got four outs for the win. Nick Wittgren worked out of a jam in the seventh before Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak each pitched an inning.

Mets continue off-field overhaul

The Mets have fired two high-ranking employees and will overhaul their legal and human resources departments on the recommendation of independent investigators hired by owner Steve Cohen to review the organization following allegations of sexual misconduct against former manager Mickey Callaway.

Callaway, fired in October of 2019 for on-field performance, was banned by Major League Baseball through at least 2022 in May following allegations of inappropriate behavior toward several women who work in sports media, including from his time with the Mets.

Executive vice president and chief legal officer David Cohen — no relation to the owner — and senior vice president for human resources and diversity Holly Lindvall will both be let go as Steve Cohen rebuilds the legal and HR departments. David Cohen has been with the Mets since 1995 and Lindvall since 2010. Both will remain with the team during “a transition period,” Cohen wrote.

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The team is updating its legal and human resources protocols to prioritize responding to complaints in a timely manner and expanding the scope of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies.

In a Feb. 1 report, The Athletic said Callaway — Mets manager from 2018-19 — “aggressively pursued” several women who work in sports media and sent three of them inappropriate photos. Callaway sent uninvited and sometimes unanswered messages to the women via email, text, or social media and asked one to send nude photos in return, according to the report.

Additionally, Jared Porter was fired by New York less than 40 days after he was hired as general manager this winter for sending sexually explicit, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 when he was working for the Chicago Cubs in their front office.

Minor league hitting coach Ryan Ellis was also fired this winter after three female Mets employees complained to human resources that Ellis had directed lewd comments to them in person and via text message in 2018.

Hall will welcome crowd for ceremony

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony is returning to its standard seating format, opening the door for another big crowd.

Hall of Fame officials said tickets will not be required for the event’s free lawn seating area. The ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 8, in Cooperstown, N.Y., and will honor class of 2020 members Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons, and Larry Walker. No one was selected this year.

The Hall of Fame’s annual awards presentation will remain an indoor, television-only event, on July 24. Al Michaels (2021) and Ken Harrelson (2020) will receive the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence, Dick Kaegel (2021) and Nick Cafardo (2020) will receive the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Career Excellence Award, and David Montgomery will receive the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award from last year.

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