Noah Syndergaard doesn’t have too many weaknesses as a pitcher. When you can throw 100 miles per hour with your fastball and back it up with a 92-mph slider, you can be pretty much unhittable, which Wednesday night is what the Mets righthander was through seven shutout innings in the wild card game against the Giants at Citi Field.
Team know they can run on Thor, however. It’s something he has worked hard to improve on after several games this season in which teams ran wild.
“As of now I feel pretty confident,” Syndergaard said on Tuesday. “I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job over the last two or three months, kind of improving the holding runners on. I’ve just got to go out there and stay nice, loose and relaxed and try not to get too tense out there when runners get on.”
Still, would-be basestealers were successful in 48 of 57 attempts against Syndergaard in the regular season.
That’s where Rene Rivera comes in.
Rivera has helped Syndergaard control the running game, or at least try to. In Wednesday night’s game, Rivera threw out one of two attempted basestealers during Syndergaard’s seven innings.
The Giants aren’t a running team. They were 14th in baseball and eighth in the National League in stolen bases with 79 this season. Angel Pagan led the team with 15 in 19 attempts.
Still, the first man to reach against Syndergaard took off for second base. It was Denard Span, who led off the third by walking on a 3-and-2 pitch.
Span, who was third on the Giants with 12 steals in 19 attempts, tried to steal with Brandon Belt at the plate. Rivera threw him out a close play at second — close enough that San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy challenged the out call.
After a replay review of 1:37, the call stood. Span could have been safe, but no replay showed enough evidence to overturn the original call.
Span did steal second successfully in the sixth after singling to center with two outs for the Giants’ first hit. He got a tremendous jump off Syndergaard, but just beat Rivera’s catch-up throw.
The Giants would have taken a 1-0 lead after the stolen base if Curtis Granderson had not run down Belt’s drive to center for the play of the game to that point. Granderson crashed into the fence some 408 feet from home plate to rob Belt of a possible triple and keep the game scoreless.
Rivera also had the Mets’ first hit off of Giants starter Madison Bumgarner with a sharp single to center leading off the third.
In the fifth, Rivera came up with one out and T.J. Rivera on second and hit a grounder to short. T.J. Rivera was caught off second base and eventually tagged out on a rundown. He did stay in it long enough to allow Rene Rivera to reach second. But the inning ended when Bumgarner, after intentionally walking James Loney, struck out Syndergaard
Rivera, who signed a minor-league contract with the Mets on April 3 — two days after Opening Day — has become Syndergaard’s personal catcher. He was behind the plate in 23 of Syndergaard’s 31 outings this season. Rivera threw out 30 percent of basestealers. The NL average was 27 percent.