Matt Harvey has yet to go through a full season with the Mets, but he scolded rookie Noah Syndergaard for giving a media crowd an interview the day before his third major-league start in Pittsburgh Friday night.
"What are you giving an interview for?" barked Harvey, as if he never spoke to the media the day before he pitched as a rookie. "What did you do today?"
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Syndergaard (1-1) seemed taken aback, but if he lives up to the promise he showed in his winning home debut on Sunday against the Brewers, he should join Harvey and Jacob deGrom, Thursday's winning pitcher, as the core of the Mets' rotation for years to come.
"These guys feed off each other, and I think Noah is going to buy into that, too," manager Terry Collins said.
Describing the challenge deGrom faced after the Mets' two straight losses to the Cards, Collins added, "You get pumped up with the challenge of it. I think Jake came in today saying, 'I've got to shut this down.' And he did that."
Syndergaard certainly was impressed with deGrom's one-hit outing and 11 strikeouts in eight innings. "He was lights out," Syndergaard said. "He let his off-speed pitches play off his fastball. That was a lot of fun to watch."
Comparing his opening loss at Chicago to his win over Milwaukee, Syndergaard felt he made progress. "I got through the sixth inning," he said. "That was the key. I want to get to the seventh and maybe even the eighth [in Pittsburgh]."
Middle heating up?
Despite their lofty standing, the Mets have been all-pitch and no-hit for much of the season, scoring three or fewer runs in 23 of their 42 games. But while deGrom was utterly dominant Thursday, the middle of the batting order showed signs of a spring thaw.
No. 3 hitter Lucas Duda was most prominent with two home runs and four RBIs. Cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer had three hits and No. 5 hitter Daniel Murphy added two.
"It's a great sign," Collins said. "Michael had three hits. If he's starting to heat up, it's going to be a different-looking team. The middle of our order . . . If they start hitting like we think they can, it's going to be fun."
Added Cuddyer: "We've got a good lineup. It's a matter of staying with the process and having things turn for you."
Collins shook up his batting order against Cardinals lefthander Jaime Garcia, replacing Curtis Granderson in rightfield with John Mayberry Jr., who previously was 6-for-14 against Garcia. Shortstop Wilmer Flores moved from sixth to second. Mayberry was robbed in his first at-bat when St. Louis centerfielder Randal Grichuk made a diving catch of his sinking liner, but Mayberry's single in the fourth drove in the Mets' first run. Flores singled in the eighth and scored . . . Collins said relievers Vic Black and Bobby Parnell were expected to pitch Thursday in St. Lucie and then head to Double-A Binghamton for a rehab stint.