By Tim Healey
BOSTON — For seven innings Friday night, as he shut down the highest-scoring offense in the majors, Noah Syndergaard was mostly stoic, working around three hits, three walks and three steals en route to his longest scoreless start in more than two years — and an 8-0 Mets win over the Red Sox.
The show of emotion that served as an exception: a fist pump in the seventh, a celebration of his successful pickoff of Ian Kinsler at first base.
Controlling the running game has been a focus for Syndergaard, and he hasn’t been very good at it. Kinsler stole second and third in the third. But this time, after Kinsler’s hard single to center, Syndergaard fired to Jay Bruce, who applied a tag for an out that was so obvious that the righthander pumped his fist even before umpire Chad Whitson had time to make the “out’’ signal.
“The more and more he does that type of stuff, doesn’t let them cheat, then the better off he’s going to be,” Mickey Callaway said. “He throws the ball where he wants to when he’s picking to first, and he’s got a pretty quick move. The more and more he can show that, mix his times, mix his holds, he’s going to get better and better at it.”
Said Syndergaard: “Any other tactic I can [employ] to get people out on the basepath or to make them aware it’s not a merry-go-round out there is a great feeling.”
The next batter, Jackie Bradley Jr., scorched a 106.8-mph line drive to shallow rightfield, where second baseman Jeff McNeil laid out for the catch, ending Syndergaard’s first scoreless outing of the year. He threw 104 pitches.
Syndergaard (12-3) has a 3.26 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. “Numbers-wise, I’m pretty decent. Anybody would take those numbers,” he said. “But not with the kind of stuff I have. I feel like I should definitely be a lot better.”
The Mets (69-78) supported Syndergaard’s outing with four homers to keep the Red Sox’s magic number to clinch the AL East title at six.
Taking advantage of the Red Sox bullpen on a night when scheduled starter Hector Velazquez was scratched because of illness, McNeil, Bruce (four RBIs), Amed Rosario and Austin Jackson homered.
McNeil’s home run was his first since Aug. 6 and his first against a lefthander since arriving in the majors July 24. He has six multihit games in 10 starts this month.
Said Syndergaard, “Is there anything that man can’t do right now?”