Thursday, May 2, 2019

Thor Makes Mets History As He Does It All in 1-0 Win Over Reds

Noah Syndergaard throwing to Yasiel Puig in the ninth. Photo by Jason Schott.

Noah Syndergaard had one of his best outings ever, as he threw a complete game shutout and had a home run to lead the Mets to a 1-0 win on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field.

Syndergaard's home run came in the third inning off Reds starter Tyler Mahle, a 407-foot shot to deep left field for the only run of the game.

On the mound, Syndergaard was unhittable, as he scattered four hits and one walk, while striking out 10, and he did it with just 104 pitches, including 74 strikes, a superb ratio.

This is the first time the Mets have ever won a 1-0 game on a solo home run from a pitcher. It's the first time in the majors since Gerrit Cole homered and the Pirates staff combined for a shutout on August 26, 2017, and that game was also against Cincinnati.

Syndergaard, who entered this game with a 1-3 record and 6.35 ERA, delivered his best performance pf the season, and it was just what the Mets (16-15) needed to earn a split in this four-game series.

Mets Manager Mickey Callaway was asked what was different about Syndergaard compared to his prior outing last Saturday against Milwaukee last Saturday (5 innings, 5 runs, 10 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts), and he said, "Really just confidence. Obviously, he had great stuff. He used his curveball really, really well. He was able to dot his fastball when he wanted to. We saw the last pitch of the game, I think it was 100, just kind of dotted, and he went out there and did what we needed him to do. We don't know how we get through the rest of the game if he doesn't complete it. Great job by him." Towards the end of his comments, Callaway was referencing the use of the Mets bullpen in this series and that Jeurys Familia is out with a shoulder injury.

The Manager was then asked what would have happened if Syndergaard's pitch count went well over 100 pitches, "If things started getting hairy, I would have given him a chance to get out of it. I think he deserved it at that point. I think that, maybe, once they tied it up and he was getting around 112, 115, we would have had to go ahead and get (Robert) Gsellman in there, but when you go that deep and you go that hard, you deserve to finish it, so we would have let him at least attempt that."

Callaway said of the effort Syndergaard put in to have a day like this, "There's no doubt it's the work, and it's not just the work in between the last game. It's the work he's put in his whole career that allows him to do something like that, which is probably more rare than a perfect game, I would guess. To hit a homer and win 1-0 with a shutout, it's got to be one of the rarest things in baseball.

"I think the main thing is he said, 'enough's enough.' He knows that he had to be better than what he was. He kind of stated that, he worked hard in between, and he went out there and he got it done."

Noah Syndergaard pitching to Joey Votto in the eighth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Reds pitching staff was able to match Syndergaard, keeping it a one-run game. Tyler Mahle threw five innings, in which he allowed one run on four hits and no walks, with seven strikeouts.
Zach Duke, Robert Stephenson and David Hernandez each pitched an inning out of the bullpen in which they didn't allow a run or a hit. The only Mets runner in the final three innings they were at bat was Pete Alonso, who led off the sixth with a walk pinch-hitting for Dominic Smith.

In the top of the ninth, Jesse Winker led off for the Reds. Winker had a big series as he got the big home run in the ninth off Diaz to win Monday night's game and he made a sliding catch for the final out down the left field line to seal Wednesday night's win. He gave a demonstrative wave to the fans as he made the catch, so Mets fans returned the favor and gave him the same sarcastic wave every time he came up on Thursday.

Syndergaard went right after Winker, getting ahead of him 0-2. At that point, the Reds left fielder started arguing with the umpire before his manager, David Bell, jumped in to try and keep him in the game. 

Bell's efforts didn't work, as both he and Winker were thrown out of the game. That forced Kyle Farmer to come in and pinch hit with an 0-2 count, a monumental task against Thor, who struck him out looking (the K was charged to Winker).

Reds Manager David Bell arguing with the umpire while Jesse Winker was being led away by his teammates. Photo by Jason Schott.

Eugenio Suarez flew out to right field for the second out before Derek Dietrich kept the game going with a single. 

The Reds' jack of all trades, Michael Lorenzen, a relief pitcher who jumps in at other times when needed, came in to pinch run and he stole second base.

Syndergaard was not rattled, and he went on to strike out Yasiel Puig looking to seal the victory.

Puig, who is hitting .178 with 4 home runs and 15 RBI, was 0-for-4 on Thursday and was 1-for-16 in the series.

This performance came after the Mets were on the wrong side of a 1-0 score on Wednesday night, as Jacob deGrom threw seven shutout innings and Cincinnati won it when Jose Iglesias homered in the ninth off Mets closer Edwin Diaz.

Callaway said of Syndergaard being motivated by deGrom's outing the night before, "There's no doubt about it. The guys in the rotation want to outdo the other guy. It's a friendly competition that leads to pitching staffs getting on a roll and doing something special. I think that the last time through the rotation, you can't ask for more. I think our hitters are starting to realize that, I think our team is starting to realize that, and we have a good opportunity here to go on this road trip (three in Milwaukee starting Friday, three in San Diego beginning Monday) and keep it going and start making some headway.

"We're not satisfied all all with where we're at. It was a great game today. We've got to feed off of what we've been doing as a pitching staff the past five days and get things rolling."

The five-day stretch Callaway is referring to began on Sunday with Steven Matz throwing seven innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, and no walks, in a 5-2 Mets win over Milwaukee. On Monday, Zack Wheeler allowed four runs in the second inning against the Reds, but that was all he allowed in six innings as he kept the Mets in the game, though they lost, 4-3. Jason Vargas had a great outing on Tuesday, as he allowed 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks, with 5 strikeouts, in 5-1/3 innings, but he got a no-decision as the Mets won 4-3 in 10 innings. deGrom threw seven shutout innings on Wednesday, in which he allowed just 3 hits and 2 walks, with 6 strikeouts, a nice bounce back after three tough outings wrapped around a stint on the injured list.

Callaway said of what it was like to see Syndergaard, who hits from the left side, hit a 407-foot homer to left, "That was a hard-hit ball, and very deep. It looked like a power-hitting righty hit it. It's just fun to watch. We have four homers from our pitchers this year (Syndergaard 2, deGrom 1, Matz 1), and it's always fun. The fans have to go crazy when they see that. That's pretty special, you just don't see it that often."

Noah Syndergaard in the cage with Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom looking on last week. Photo by Jason Schott.

On what it's like to see his pitchers hit like this and how seriously they take batting practice, Callaway said, "There's no doubt about it. I was out there early, about four or five days ago, and all of them were going oppo (opposite field), like deep, deep, so they get out there. They take pride in it, they know that they can help themselves win a game when they're up there, so they take it very seriously. They love to hit, you know, there's times when we let them swing away in big situations when other teams might have their pitchers bunt. Our pitchers can get it done, so you want to give them a chance sometimes. They take it more seriously than most."

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