Imagine what might have been had Thor been healthy all year.
Backed by three home runs, Noah Syndergaard won his fifth game in seven starts since returning from the disabled list as the Mets won their second in a row against the San Francisco Giants, 5-3, Wednesday night at Citi Field.
Dominic Smith, Todd Frazier and Jose Bautista – batting leadoff with Amed Rosario getting the night off – homered, and Jeff McNeil had hits in his first two at-bats to set a club record for rookies by extending his streak to hits in eight straight at-bats. With Andrew McCutchen not in the Giants’ lineup, and reportedly having cleared waivers, paving the way for a trade, the Mets took advantage of some shaky fielding (two errors by shortstop Brandon Crawford) and pitching to build a 3-0 lead through three innings and held the Giants at bay the rest of the way.
With Syndergaard having been victimized by the Phillies stealing five bases against him in his previous start, Mets manager Mickey Callaway spent much of his pregame media briefing talking about the effort to get Syndergaard to be better at shutting down opposing teams’ running game.
“He’s been working on just quickening up his delivery,’’ said Callaway, who said Syndergaard felt good about a session with pitching coach Dave Eiland a couple days ago. “He doesn’t have to be a 1.1 [seconds] to home, but he has to be a 1.35 to 1.4 range, to give our catchers a chance. They’ve been working diligently; there’s a lot of different things, a lot of different ideas they can work on. But it’s going to take reps, it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take paying attention to the situation, by Noah, to get it done.’’
Syndergaard was perfect for the first two innings, but even when the Giants started hitting the ball against him in the third, they didn’t seem inclined to run against him. Syndergaard made it through his six innings without allowing a stolen base.
Smith’s leadoff homer in the second inning put the Mets on the board and two outs later, a single and an error set up McNeil’s RBI single that was his eighth straight hit (he tripled in the first inning). Frazier followed with a one-hop double off the wall that initially scored two runs to make it 4-0, but a video review determined Frazier’s ball had bounced over the orange line atop the wall and that meant the hit was a ground-rule double, meaning McNeil, who had scored from first base, was sent back to third and the Mets’ lead was 3-0.
After the Giants got two runs back against Syndergaard (9-3) in the third inning, Bautista homered with two out in the fourth to make it 4-2. Syndergaard then settled down and kept the Giants off the board until he was lifted for pinch hitter Jose Reyes in the sixth with a 4-2 lead. He threw 101 pitches, with six strikeouts, one walk and two runs allowed. After he left the game, reliever Drew Smith gave up a homer to Austin Slater leading off the seventh, but Frazier (2-for-4) homered to left in the bottom of the inning to restore the two-run lead.