NEW YORK — With the non-waiver trade deadline approaching, Jacob deGrom’s name has been tied to playoff contenders in both leagues.
For now, the hard-throwing right-hander is doing his best to help the scuffling Mets get back into the playoff race.
Staked to an early lead on Wednesday, deGrom (11-3) pitched into the seventh inning and won his career-best seventh straight start as the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-3.
“I guess it’s a good thing if other teams want you,” said deGrom, who has a 1.51 ERA over those seven wins. “But like I said, I got a job to do here and that’s my main focus right now.”
DeGrom, 29, has been among the Mets’ few bright spots in a season that quickly went sour during the first three months. He could be traded along with a few other players if management gets a tempting offer.
“It’s a long season. Yeah, it’s been a rough year. We’ve played some ugly games, but everybody in baseball does that,” New York manager Terry Collins said. “What I am trying to do is make sure that we don’t get down, that we keep the spirits up. They compete. They come every day to the park wanting to play and play hard.”
A night after being shut out by St. Louis’ Michael Wacha, New York jumped on Mike Leake (6-8) for seven runs in the first two innings and cruised from there behind deGrom to snap a three-game losing streak.
DeGrom settled down after a 25-pitch first inning, allowing seven hits and striking out three. He was pulled with two outs in the seventh after Luke Voit’s double scored Greg Garcia for the Cardinals’ first run.
The Mets sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning and strung together three straight run-scoring hits with two outs, capped by Wilmer Flores’ RBI single.
The Mets added four more runs off of Leake in the second, only one of them earned. Third baseman Jedd Gyorko’s throw sailed into right field when second baseman Kolten Wong and shortstop Paul DeJong convened at the bag on what could have been a double-play grounder by Asdrubal Cabrera. Jay Bruce followed with an RBI single and Yoenis Cespedes doubled to right to make it 5-0.
“Saw Kolten was way over with the lefty and I just went to the bag, but Kolten is pretty quick,” DeJong said. “Just a learning curve, I guess, playing up the middle playing with him.”
Jose Reyes drove in two more runs with a single to center, and Leake, who came in with the sixth-best ERA in the National League, was pulled after two innings.
In the eighth, St. Louis loaded the bases with two outs and Magneuris Sierra drove in two runs with a single off Jerry Blevins. Out of pinch hitters, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny sent pitcher Adam Wainwright to plate, and he drew a walk to chase Blevins.
Addison Reed struck out Voit to end the threat and retired the Cardinals in the ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.
“Luke took a couple nice swings. Great at-bat by Wainwright to get us there and couple other guys doing the same thing,” Matheny said. “We had a chance. Unfortunately it got away.”
JUST BEING CAUTIOUS
Cespedes, who missed Sunday’s game with a sore hip, drew the attention of manager Terry Collins after doubling in the second inning. He was slow out of the batter’s box and gingerly went in standing at second base. After a brief timeout, he stayed in the game. In the third, Cespedes didn’t run at full speed on a fly ball to left that dropped in front of him for a hit.
Mets 2B Neil Walker is expected to begin a rehab assignment on Friday with Triple-A Las Vegas. Walker, who has been on the disabled list since June 15 with a partial tear in his right hamstring, expects to join the Mets on Monday in San Diego. Veteran Astrubal Cabrera has been playing second base in Walker’s absence and said he’s been taking grounders at third and first in anticipation of his teammate’s return.
Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn (8-6, 3.40) starts Thursday afternoon in the season series finale against Mets RHP Seth Lugo (4-2, 4.50). Lynn, who has won his last two starts, is 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA in six career starts (eight appearances) against New York, but holds a 0-3 record with a 3.55 ERA in two starts (three appearances) at Citi Field.
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