If ever the Mets wanted Noah Syndergaard to drop the hammer, this was the game.
Syndergaard delivered the lengthy outing the Mets needed Wednesday after starters Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom and a beleaguered bullpen were tagged for 26 runs over the previous two games. The righthander hurled seven strong innings before running out of steam in the eighth in a 9-6 victory over the Twins at Citi Field.
“That was much needed, we really did,” Mickey Callaway said. “Most of our guys had pitched, [reliever Justin] Wilson had been under the weather – and we were trying to stay away from him – and we needed a starter to go really deep.
“That start by Noah was tremendous. That was Noah Syndergaard.”
After allowing a run-scoring single by Max Kepler with two outs in the third inning, Syndergaard retired the next 13 batters he faced until Mitch Garver reached on an infield single leading off the eighth with the Mets leading, 9-1.
“It was a step in the right direction. I felt really good out there. That’s a really aggressive, hot-hitting team. I was just able to keep them off-balance tonight,” said Syndergaard, who struck out seven and walked none. “Mechanically I felt probably the best I’ve felt in a long time. I’m just gonna work on continuing to make that consistent. When my mechanics are spot-on, I get a little more movement on the ball. It was really encouraging and I look forward to continuing to work on it.”
In the eighth, however, Syndergaard faced three batters and retired none of them, with Jonathan Schoop (double) and Byron Buxton (triple) each hitting run-scoring extra-base hits. Jeurys Familia also allowed an inherited runner to score, leaving Syndergaard’s line at four earned runs over seven-plus innings. Despite the strong performance, his ERA rose from 4.50 to 4.74.
“I think he maybe got a little tired there. His pitch count got up there, he got stretched out, but he did a tremendous job,” Callaway said.
On another chilly night in Flushing, Syndergaard admitted his body tightened up in the dugout during the bottom of the fifth inning — in which the Mets sent 11 men to the plate and scored six runs on just two hits, with six walks and a hit-by-pitch — and again in the home seventh (three runs).
“There were those two innings that were pretty long, I was on the bases for a little bit and stiffened up, maybe,” Syndergaard said. “But I think I can speak on behalf of all five starting pitchers that regardless of the situation, you’re probably going to have to pry the ball out of our cold, dead hands to take us out of the game.”
Syndergaard left to a standing ovation when Callaway removed him in the eighth, one night after deGrom had posted his shortest outing (four innings) since May of last season. Wheeler also had been ripped for seven runs over 4 2/3 innings in Sunday’s loss to Washington.
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