Noah Syndergaard raised his black glove, the one inscribed with his nickname "Thor," and used it to shield his mouth from lip readers.
The Mets phenom was bound to endure a rough night. And as he walked off the mound in the second inning of Tuesday night's 7-2 loss to the Padres, it was clear that it had come.
The 22-year-old Syndergaard (2-3) lasted just four innings, the shortest stint of his first five big-league outings. He allowed seven runs and 10 hits, both career highs.
He also struck out 10 -- another career best -- though that was relegated to a mere side note. Despite a fastball that reached 98 mph, Syndergaard failed to slow the Padres, whose four-run second inning sent the pitcher off the field shouting into his glove.
"He didn't locate the ball like he did before," manager Terry Collins said. "As we know at this level, good stuff is great. But you have to put it where you want to."
After beginning the day in a tie for the lead in the NL East, the Mets dipped a half-game behind the Nationals, who earlier in the day split a doubleheader with the Blue Jays.
For the second straight night, the Mets and Padres were responsible for adding another line to baseball's long list of odd feats.
Until Monday night's series opener, no pitcher in baseball history had ever allowed double-digit hits and recorded double-digit strikeouts while pitching less than five innings.
Then, the Mets bestowed that dubious distinction to Padres starter Andrew Cashner. One night later, the Padres returned the favor against Syndergaard.
"It was definitely a frustrating start for me," said Syndergaard, who thought he had some of his best stuff of the season.In his previous three starts, Syndergaard had allowed just two runs in 191/3 innings. Perhaps his best work came in his previous outing last Wednesday, when he tossed 71/3 shutout innings against the Phillies.
In that game, Syndergaard looked superhuman, throwing a 100 mph fastball before hitting a 430 foot homer.
But against the Padres, Syndergaard looked mortal when he was lifted in the fifth for a pinch hitter.
Derek Norris slammed a two-run homer in the fourth, golfing one of Syndergaard's hanging curveballs into the leftfield stands at Petco Park.
In the brutal second, Will Venable lined a two-run triple just inside the rightfield line, which followed a two-run single off Syndergaard's mitt by Alexi Amarista.
Cory Spangenberg added a run-scoring triple in the third that scooted by leftfielder Michael Cuddyer. He found himself as the beneficiary of video review, which overturned the umpires' initial call that he had been thrown out at third base.
By then, the Mets were well on their way to falling 8-16 on the road this season.
With the Mets going into a six man rotation, Syndergaard will have a week between starts.
"I didn't get the job done -- simple as that," he said.