Noah Syndergaard almost seemed amazed that David Ortiz had spoken to him. "He said something to me at first base, which was pretty cool," Syndergaard said. "So we're basically best friends now."
Well, he should hear what Ortiz had to say about him and his fellow Mets pitchers after Sunday's 5-4 win over Boston.
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"The Mets, with that pitching staff," Ortiz told reporters, "they're not too far away from walking into the money. When you've got a young pitching staff like that. [Jeurys] Familia, man, blowing a splitter at 95 miles per hour? Are you crazy? Nobody is going to hit that. Then 100 miles per hour? They got it. They got the pitching. [Syndergaard] has great stuff. You go to [Matt] Harvey and the other guys. That's the pitching you want to have in your clubhouse."
That's some big praise from Big Papi!
And that came after Ortiz went deep off Syndergaard for his 494th career home run. When a hitter with those Hall of Fame-worthy numbers speaks that highly of a pitcher, it's quite a compliment.
Syndergaard -- pitching with a quicker delivery and throwing a changeup that he said was as good as it's ever been -- allowed four earned runs and six hits with three strikeouts and a walk in 6 2/3 innings.
"Got ahead of hitters really quickly, had lots of movement on the two-seam fastball," Syndergaard said. "It was a lot better outing than what the statline suggests."
Ortiz, who struck out against Syndergaard to end the first, lined a 97-mph fastball to right in the sixth for a two-run home run that gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. Syndergaard allowed a ground-rule double to Jackie Bradley Jr. on his 111th and final pitch, leaving with a 4-3 lead. Hansel Robles then allowed an RBI triple by Mookie Betts, snapping Syndergaard's streak of seven straight quality starts at Citi Field.
"I feel like it was a really good outing," Syndergaard said. "I'm glad we got the win and that's all that matters."
Terry Collins said the tweak that pitching coach Dan Warthen made to Syndergaard's delivery to speed up his tempo was beneficial. "Did you see how fast he worked today?" Collins said. "I think it helped. His rhythm was much better. His timing was much better. His pace of the game was better. He got the ball, got on the mound and threw it. And I think that kept him in sync. I think it kept the location good. He was very, very good today. And it was certainly a game we needed to have."
Syndergaard (8-6, 3.31 ERA) has pitched 122 1/3 innings with the Mets and 29 2/3 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas this season. With the Mets looking to limit his innings, he soon could have his start skipped.
Logan Verrett, who started in place of Harvey last week, was optioned to Las Vegas to make room on the roster for new reliever Addison Reed. After 10 days, he's eligible to be called up for a spot start.
But on Sunday, Syndergaard hardly resembled someone in need of a day off.
"I feel like most of the hits I gave up today were pretty weak hit," he said, "with the exception of Ortiz's home run."
And he impressed Big Papi anyway.