NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom talked like a pitcher who had struggled.
He'd been watching video, he said. He'd fixed his mechanics.
He was determined to be better Saturday night, better than the last time out. And remember, he didn't allow any runs the last time out.
The young New York Mets right-hander didn't allow any runs Saturday against the Miami Marlins, either. DeGrom has the longest scoreless streak in the major leagues (18 1/3 innings), and the Mets have the longest winning streak, after beating the Marlins 5-4 to make it seven in a row.
"We feel like we have that belief that we're going to win," Michael Cuddyer said. "And it starts with the guy on the mound."
The guy on the mound for the Mets Saturday was the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, the guy who wasn't satisfied with his 6 1/3 shutout innings in the Mets' Monday home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. His off-speed pitches just weren't as sharp as he wanted them.
So deGrom went to work, and responded with another seven shutout innings against the Marlins, lowering his ERA to 0.93. And leaving him with a much more satisfied feeling.
"Definitely, that was the best I've felt," he said.
The only two runs deGrom has allowed this season came in the first inning of his first start, on a Ryan Zimmerman home run in Washington. His breaking ball may not have been as sharp as he wanted it to be, but deGrom could rely on a 95 mph fastball that he could locate.
He needed more than just that Saturday, especially when the Marlins put two runners on base in both the third and the sixth innings. DeGrom struck out Christian Yelich to end the third, but he faced a bigger challenge in the sixth, with only one out and Giancarlo Stanton at the plate.
DeGrom fell behind 3-0 in the count to Stanton, but he didn't give in. He threw a fastball for strike one, went to a changeup for strike two and a fastball inside that Stanton swung through for strike three.
"I was thinking, I'm not going to walk him," deGrom said. "I'm going to come right at him, get him out."
And he did.
"His mound presence, the way he carries himself, he's not scared of any hitter or any situation," Cuddyer said. "No moments are too big for him, and no hitter is too big."
Nothing is too big right now for the Mets, even when they faced a ninth-inning jam on a night when manager Terry Collins was determined to rest Jeurys Familia and Jerry Blevins because of their recent workloads. It helped to have a four-run lead going to the ninth, but they still ended up needing Alex Torres to strike out Yelich for his first career save.
"You've got to take the streaks when they come," Collins said. "I realize it's early, but these games count. Everybody thinks pennants are won in August and September, but if you win early, you're at least in the dogfight."
The Mets are in it right now in large part because of pitchers like deGrom, who can put up scoreless inning streaks and still try to get better.