Noah Syndergaard looked like his best self as he threw one perfect inning with two strikeouts in his first outing in nearly two years in Game 2 of the Mets’ doubleheader sweep over Miami at Citi Field on Tuesday night.
The Mets won Game 1, 5-2, and took the second game in extra innings, winning 2-1 on James McCann’s one-out walkoff squibber off pitcher Anthony Bass’ glove in the ninth.
Syndergaard’s last big-league appearance was on Sept. 29, 2019. The Mets announced he would be starting Tuesday’s nightcap on Tuesday afternoon.
After his outing, Syndergaard admitted he thought about it possibly being his last as a Met at Citi Field. But the pending free agent, who plans to throw one more one-inning outing this season, said he’s "fairly confident that we’ll reach an agreement and I’ll be pitching here next season."
Syndergaard said that wasn’t based on any current talks, but was just his own "speculation." He added that he would be "grateful" if the Mets gave him the qualifying offer in the offseason, which is expected to be around $20 million if the current system is in place (the CBA between the owners and players expires on Dec. 1).
It was a good day for Syndergaard, who underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020. The Mets initially hoped he could be back as soon as this June, but elbow soreness and then a bout with COVID-19 delayed the 29-year-old’s return.
"It was definitely a crazy journey," he said. "Murphy’s Law, anything that could happen did happen. I had my setback back in late May and then, of course, I caught COVID right as I was coming back. It just seemed like things were up against me and I wasn’t going to make it back this year. So just to be able to get back out there and compete – even though it was only one inning – it felt amazing."
His long blonde locks flowing beneath his cap, Syndergaard pumped 10 pitches, nine of them strikes. He started with four fastballs, all 96 miles per hour, to strike out Miguel Rojas swinging.
Syndergaard then got Jazz Chisholm Jr. to swing through an 89-mph changeup on 1-and-2 for his second K.
Finally, Bryan De La Cruz, after fouling off a 96-mph heater, grounded to third on a changeup at 90.
Syndergaard walked off the mound to cheers and had his hat, glove and belt checked by the plate umpire for sticky substances. That wasn’t part of the game when Syndergaard last appeared on a big-league mound.
"When I was walking out of the dugout, hearing the fans, I almost had to shed a little tear," he said. "I’m not a really emotional guy, but it definitely got to me."
In the opener, Marcus Stroman allowed two runs in five innings and Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer and drove in three as the Mets snapped a five-game losing streak in the seven-inning game.
Stroman (10-13, 3.02 ERA) also picked up his first career stolen base when he swiped second in the second inning. Stroman is also a free agent after the season.
"I’m looking forward to free agency," he said. "However it may play out . . . I’m just playing out the story as it should be. There’s no worries on my end and I know there will be a team, or a few teams, that want me."
Asked if he was open to returning to the Mets, Stroman said: "I’m open to anything."
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Brandon Nimmo triple and Lindor single. They made it 3-0 in the third. Jonathan Villar had an RBI single and another run scored on Miami’s third error in the first three innings.
Lewin Diaz hit a two-run homer in the fourth for Miami. Lindor, batting righthanded, countered with a 399-foot two-run shot to left in the sixth, his 19th home run of the season and eighth in September.
The Mets trailed 1-0 in the nightcap until Kevin Pillar tied it with an RBI single in the fifth.
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