This time, with the Mets holding a six-run lead after seven innings, there was no controversy surrounding Mickey Callaway’s removal of Noah Syndergaard from Sunday’s 6-1 victory over the Rockies at Citi Field.
The Mets’ often incendiary bullpen wasn’t going to spoil Syndergaard’s one-hit, seven-strikeout gem on 98 pitches. And Syndergaard voiced no displeasure, agreeing with Callaway that he was gassed, mainly because he had covered first base three times on balls fielded by first baseman Pete Alonso.
“I got my sprints in today,’’ said Syndergaard, who has a history of not holding runners on but picked off Trevor Story in the first inning.
Syndergaard’s enigmatic season — good, mediocre and bad starts — took a turn toward the superb in his 100th career start. He walked two and allowed only a second-inning single to rightfield by Nolan Arenado that was deflected by second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria.
Callaway said the official scorer’s call on Arenado’s hit “could have gone either way. I think Hech makes that play probably 75 percent of the time.’’
Syndergaard (4-4, 4.45 ERA) had a blistering fastball.
“His fastball command overall was there today,’’ catcher Tomas Nido said. “He established the strike zone right away. That set the tone from the first inning. He’s been getting strike one. That’s the most important pitch in baseball. He made the pitches to get ahead and the pitches to put them away.’’
Syndergaard said he made a “little, light mechanical tweak that I felt like I just needed to be more consistent on and add a little more deception to my four-seam fastball. The rest of my pitches were able to play off that.’’
He also was more comfortable using his curveball. “Quite a bit, actually,’’ he said. “Right now, I’m still working on finding that slider. It’s forcing me to continue to develop my other pitches.’’
Callaway seems inexorably linked to Syndergaard. He is his biggest supporter, but he pulled him from his previous start with two outs in the seventh inning and a 3-2 lead over the Giants in a game that dissolved into a 9-3 loss in 10 innings. Syndergaard didn’t want to come out and Callaway took the blame.
Callaway also believes Syndergaard is headed for more games like the one he pitched against the Rockies.
“I understand his consistency probably hasn’t been what he’s capable of this year,’’ he said. “But I think in the past when he’s been healthy and pitching, he’s a top five pitcher in all of baseball, and the numbers are there to show it. I know we talked about that a lot coming into spring training. But he’ll get it going. This guy has some time in the big leagues, but he’s still a young guy. He’s still learning his craft, still learning how to deal with certain situations, like when he loses his slider, he can go to the curve a little bit more, which he did a great job of today.
“He’s still developing, picks guys off, he’s controlling the running game better. He’s a little bit quicker to home than he was in the past. This isn’t a finished product at all. I think that at some point you’re going to see Noah Syndergaard doing this on a more consistent basis.’’
Sign up for Newsday’s Mets Messages for updates directly to your phone via text, free with a Newsday digital subscription. Learn more at newsday.com/metstext.