The Mets needed innings from Noah Syndergaard on Thursday night. They got six dominant ones and were hoping to get more.
But then Mother Nature threw a curve. Syndergaard was cruising — having thrown just 73 pitches in six innings — when a fast-moving, fierce rainstorm halted play in the bottom of the sixth with the Mets leading the Indians at Citi Field, 2-0.
After a rain delay of two hours and 28 minutes, the score remained the same until a second rain delay began at 11:47 p.m. with the Mets batting in the bottom of the eighth.
After a wait of 36 minutes, the game was called and the Mets were crowned 2-0 victors.
Paul Sewald, who pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts, was awarded his first save of the season and the third of his career. Edwin Diaz was warming for the ninth, but there was no ninth.
Syndergaard (9-6) wasn’t just good. He was great. He was perfect for 5 1/3 innings before Cleveland’s Tyler Naquin lined a single to center that Juan Lagares caught — on a short hop.
One out later, Francisco Lindor lined a single to left to give the Indians their first and only threat of the night. Greg Allen followed with a grounder to the right of Pete Alonso. What happened next will be talked about for a while and could lead to a new type of on-field Mets celebration.
Alonso dived for the ball, knocked it down and fired to Syndergaard, who raced to first to beat the speedy Allen by a step to end the inning.
Alonso and Syndergaard then executed something rarely, if ever, seen mid-game on a baseball field: a perfect, leaping chest-bump.
“We’ve got to work on that a little bit,” Syndergaard said. “But that was pure excitement.”
It’s not hard to imagine the chest bump becoming something the Mets do with more regularity if their incredible run continues into September.
The Mets, who swept the three-game series, have won 13 of their last 14 home games. The most recent before Thursday was Wednesday’s 4-3, 10-inning victory over the Indians with the winning run coming on the first walkoff hit of J.D. Davis’ big-league career. Davis’ hit led to another new Mets ritual: the ripping off of the jersey of the man who gets the walk-off hit.
Wednesday’s excitement is why the Mets needed length from Syndergaard. Marcus Stroman left after four innings and the Mets needed six innings from their bullpen.
Syndergaard struck out five overall, including the first two batters of the game. He was at 31 pitches after three innings.
“We’ve seen him good a lot, but tonight was really good,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He put up zeroes. When you have to stop the game when he’s going so good, you’re like, ‘Oh, no.’ ”
The Mets were also held hitless in the first three innings by Aaron Civale (1-3), who was making his fifth big-league start.
Allen made a bid for a perfect-game ending extra-base hit with a drive to the warning track in left with one out in the fourth. But Davis ran it down with his back to the infield, reaching out and making a circus, highlight-reel catch that was made harder by the fact that the converted infielder turned the wrong way when chasing the ball. But all it did was add to Davis’ folk hero status at Citi Field, with fans chanting his name until he doffed his cap during the next at-bat. “I was pretty surprised,” Davis said of his catch.
Asked about the crowd reaction, Davis said: “I was more blown away that I actually caught the ball.”
Callaway added: “It probably gave Willie Mays’ catch a run for its money. I’ll leave it at that.”
Joe Panik picked up the Mets’ first hit with a leadoff single in the fourth. One out later, Michael Conforto blooped a ground-rule double down the leftfield line. Wilson Ramos followed with a two-run double to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. He has a 16-game hitting streak.
>Rain started falling in the top of the sixth and then really started falling in the bottom half. There were two outs with Conforto on first when the wind started whipping around the stadium. The umpires wisely called for the tarp and the grounds crew barely got it down before the deluge really got going.