May 12

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Does It All

SYNDERGAARD: Dream game. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Dream game. (AP)

Noah Syndergaard was still dealing in the eighth inning, but maybe it wasn’t because his pitch count was low. I’m thinking Terry Collins kept him in the game because Syndergaard was the only Met who was hitting.

Syndergaard drove in all four Mets’ runs with a pair of homers – including a three-run drive in the fifth after failing to put down a bunt – in Wednesday night’s 4-3 victory over the Dodgers.

Maybe it’s something in the water in Southern California.

“I don’t think I ever hit two home runs in Little League,’’ Syndergaard told reporters. “To hit two home runs in a big league game, especially with a pitcher like Kenta Maeta out there, it was an ultimate experience.’’

And, he wasn’t too bad at what he is paid to do, either, giving up two runs on six hits with six strikeouts. Syndergaard gave up five hits in the first four innings, but settled down and retired 11 straight.

Syndergaard amazed everybody.

“He’s throwing 100 (mph) and he’s hitting home runs to the opposite field in Dodger Stadium. It’s legendary,” Mets second baseman Neil Walker said.“He’s a big strong kid. He’s Thor.”

And he put the hammer down.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #33, May 11   Record: 21-12   Streak: W 1

Standings: First, NL East

Runs: 141     Average per game: 4.3    Times scoring 3 runs or less: 13

SUMMARY:  Syndergaard pitched eight stellar innings and supported his own cause by driving in all the Mets’ runs with a pair of homers.

KEY MOMENT:  Syndergaard’s three-run homer in the fifth.

THUMBS UP: Walker broke a 0-for-22 slide with a double in the second. … Two hits each by Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Syndergaard. … No stolen bases by the Dodgers.

THUMBS DOWN: Just joking, but Syndergaard’s error in the second. … Ouch! Curtis Granderson went 0-for-5 as did Asdrubal Cabrera.

EXTRA INNINGS: Steven Matz will miss his next start with soreness in his left forearm. I’ll have more on that later. … David Wright did not play. It was a scheduled day off, but he’s nursing a sore shoulder. … Walker was back in the lineup after missing three games with a bruised shin. … Syndergaard had his elbow checked after his May 1 start against San Francisco. … Wilmer Flores is expected to go on the disabled list today with lefty reliever Sean Gilmartin being brought up.

QUOTEBOOK: When you’re supposed to bunt, you’d like to see him get the bunt down. But, if you don’t get the bunt down, you might as well hit a homer.’’ – Collins on taking off the bunt sign before Syndergaard’s second homer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 14: Groundball outs by Syndergaard, proof his slider was working well.

NEXT FOR METS:  Tonight: Bartolo Colon (3-1, 2.82) vs. Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.02). Kershaw has given up two earned runs in 16 innings over his previous two starts, with 24 strikeouts and no walks.

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May 08

Mets Wrap: Colon Hits, Pitches Team To Win

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #29    May 7: at San Diego    Score: Mets 6, Padres 3

Record: 18-11  Streak: W 1

Standings: Second, NL East .5 GB Nationals  Playoffs Today: First WC vs. Pittsburgh

Runs: 129  Average: 4.5  Times scoring 3 runs or less: 12

ANALYSIS: When you watch enough baseball, eventually you’ll say to yourself, “Now, I’ve seen everything.’’ After Bartolo Colon’s first career homer, maybe we have.

SUMMARY: The Mets crushed four more homers, from Yoenis Cespedes and Colon in the first two innings, and David Wright and Michael Conforto going back-to-back in the ninth. 

KEY MOMENT: How can it be anything but Colon’s drive? It proved to be the margin of difference until the ninth-inning padding.

THUMBS UP: Asdrubal Cabrera made a great catch of a foul ball near the stands, and acknowledged a young fan that tried to congratulate him. I love that stuff. … Cespedes hit a two-run homer in the first. … Three walks, a single and homer from Wright. … Conforto broke a 1-for-17 slide with his homer. … Kevin Plawecki hit two doubles.

THUMBS DOWN: Colon homers. How can there be any negative?

EXTRA INNINGS:  The cooled-off Conforto and Neil Walker were in their customary third-and-sixth slots in the batting order. … Walker is on a 0-for-18 slide. … Travis d’Arnaud‘s shoulder still hurts and his time on the DL will be extended.

QUOTEBOOK:  “You’re so happy for him. He’s such a pro. … It was really cool to see it happen.’’ – Collins on Colon’s homer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6: Time Mets have hit back-to-back homers this year.

NEXT FOR METS: Matt Harvey starts Sunday.

May 07

Colon One Of A Kind

Bartolo Colon swings hard, so you figured if he ever caught a pitch just right it might go out. Well, it finally happened in the second inning Saturday night when Colon, 17 days shy of his 43rd birthday, connected against James Shields in the 226th at-bat of his career.

This wasn’t a “run for the roses,’’ as much as it was a 31-second jog around the bases, long enough for the Mets to vacate the bench, fans back home to text their friends with a “you’ll never believe what just happened,” message, and researchers to discover he became the oldest player to hit his first career homer.

Colon’s blast – and he did crush it – was one of four the Mets hit on the night. Yoenis Cespedes hit the first in the first inning, and David Wright and Michael Conforto went back-to-back in the ninth as the Mets regained their power stroke to beat the Padres, 6-3, and Colon won the 221st game of his splendid career.

COLON: One of a kind. (GETTY)

COLON: One of a kind. (GETTY)

Incidentally, the Mets also have the oldest player ever to hit a homer in Julio Franco at 47.

This is Colon’s third year with the Mets. He was originally signed to pick up the innings void when Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery. Colon won 15 and 14 games, respectively, in his first two years and worked over 190 innings each time.

Colon won over the hearts of Mets’ fans, not to mention his teammates, with his work ethic and outwardly unashamed signs of enjoying himself on the field. Colon also won everybody’s respect last year when he volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen during the playoffs.

Colon’s behind-the-back flip to first base last year in MIami was a sense of comic relief, but Saturday’s homer came at a time when the struggling Mets’ offense most needed a jolt.

However, the Mets didn’t get Colon to rake. They got him to pitch, and once again he came up with a quality outing, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings with five strikeouts. It marked the fourth time in six starts this year Colon (3-1) has gone at least six innings, and the 50th time in 68 starts with the Mets he’s gone that far.

Those, however, are numbers. He means far more than stats to this franchise. To watch his teammates mob him in the dugout, to hear how they love to tease him and enjoy his company, is a reflection how much they like and admire him. That’s a sign of respect not many players get to enjoy.

Colon has been a joy to watch during his short time here. He’ll go down as one of the most beloved Mets.

 

May 04

Mets Wrap: Power Turned Back On; Matz Superb

Manager Terry Collins has frequently said the Mets are a team built on power and don’t manufacture runs. He was wrong then and would be wrong now.

With today’s 8-0 victory over the Braves, the Mets have won 13 of their last 16 games, mostly with power. They have hit 38 homers in their last 18 games, which is a blistering rate. However, long-time followers of the Mets know they won’t always get the four homers the got today.

Their inability to manufacture against Matt Wisler, Tuesday, and Madison Bumgarner, Sunday, hurt them. Not scratching runs is indicative of their 5-4 record in one-run games.

METS GAME WRAP

 Mets 8, Braves 0

Game: #26  Record: 17-9  Streak: W 1

SUMMARY: Two homers by Lucas Duda, and one apiece from Asdrubal Cabrera and Rene Rivera, backed the strong pitching of Steven Matz, who gave up two hits in 7.2 scoreless innings.

KEY MOMENT: Rivera’s two-run homer in the second. Matz coasted from then on.

THUMBS UP: Matz is now 8-1 lifetime in 11 career starts. … Analyst Ron Darling, who said, “Aw, c’mon,’’ in protest when Collins came out to pull Matz with two outs in the eighth after 106 pitches. … Duda is streaking again with seven homers in his last 15 games. … Addison Reed struck out the side in the ninth.

THUMBS DOWN: Michael Conforto has cooled. With today’s 0-for-3, he is 1-for-15 since Sunday. … Not letting Matz at least finish the eighth.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets have won six straight series, something they haven’t done since 2006. … David Wright had the day off. … Rivera should get the start tomorrow after his homer. Collins was critical of Kevin Plawecki’s hitting after Tuesday’s game. Collins backed off criticism of Plawecki, saying he’s aware he’s only had 34 at-bats. Collins said Plawecki will play Thursday.

QUOTEBOOK: “Those are great signs for Lucas Duda,” – Collins on if Duda going to the opposite can enable him to go on a hot streak. “I hope he stays hot because he can carry you.”

BY THE NUMBERS: 40: Mets homers in 26 games.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets begin a three-city, 11-game road trip tomorrow at San Diego (four games), followed by Los Angeles (four) and Colorado (three). Thursday, RHP Jacob deGrom (3-0, 1.02) vs. RHP Colin Rea (2-1, 4.61); Friday, RHP Noah Syndergaard (2-1, 2.51) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (2-3, 2.48); Saturday, RHP Bartolo Colon (2-1, 2.56) vs. RHP James Shields (1-4, 3.23); RHP Matt Harvey (2-4, 4.76) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (2-2, 4.85).

May 01

Mets Wrap: Is Running On Syndergaard A Big Deal?

Like a shark senses blood in the water, a team will jump all over a pitcher when it detects a weakness, especially when it’s somebody such as the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, who doesn’t have many.

The book on Syndergaard is you can run on him. No, make that you can run all over him – that is, if you can get on base.

SYNDERGAAARD: You can run on him. (AP)

SYNDERGAAARD: You can run on him. (AP)

Runners have been successful in all ten of their stolen base attempts against Syndergaard, but what the Mets have to figure out is if it is a big deal or something they can live with.

The Giants’ running game resulted in four runs in San Francisco’s 6-1 victory Sunday over the Mets.

“We have to do a better job of holding runners,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He can’t be that slow to the plate. He can’t be that deliberate. What I don’t want is to get him out of sync.’’

Scoreless going into the fourth, the Giants had runners on the corners with one our following singles by Matt Duffy and Buster Posey. With the count full, Giants manager Bruce Bochy sent Posey to stay out of the double play, which undoubtedly would have been the case on Brandon Belt’s hard-hit ball to second.

So, instead of being out of the inning with no runs, the Giants scratched out a manufactured run, and Hunter Pence followed with a two-run homer.

The Giants eked out another run off Syndergaard in the sixth when Duffy singled and stole second. After a walk to Belt chased Syndergaard in favor of Hansel Robles. Pence followed with a RBI single to pad Madison Bumgarner’s lead.

Syndergaard allowed three steals Sunday – the Giants stole four overall – and five in his previous start against Cincinnati. In his short 15-start career, runners have stolen 27 bases in 29 attempts.

Collins said Syndergaard could incorporate a slide-step to the plate, which is harder for runners to time. The downside is a possible loss in velocity, or worse.

“You don’t want him to lose command,’’ Collins said.

Another downside of a slide step is it could force Syndergaard to tip his pitches, telling the hitter a fastball is coming.

As it is, if a runner gets on against Syndergaard, especially a speed guy leading off an inning, it’s almost a sure double.

Syndergaard is a rising star, but his Achilles Heel is not being able to hold runners. It hurt him Sunday, and will continue to do so in games in which he doesn’t have his best stuff or when the Mets don’t hit.

It’s a flaw that can be corrected, but pitching coach Dan Warthen isn’t likely to make any major mechanical adjustments during the season. This is something the Mets will work on with Syndergaard during spring training.

Or, they could decide Syndergaard is pretty good now the way he is and don’t want to mess with him.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #23 Record: 15-8  Streak: L 1

SUMMARY: Bumgarner outpitched Syndergaard in a dynamic pitching matchup and was backed by Pence’s three RBI.

KEY MOMENT: By sending the runner to stay out of what would have been an inning-ending double play, the Giants scored a scratch run and set up Pence’s homer.

THUMBS UP: Two hits from Juan Lagares, David Wright and Neil Walker. … It was Curtis Granderson Socks Day, so we don’t have to see any more of those commercials.

THUMBS DOWN: Two runs against the bullpen, including Posey’s homer off Logan Verrett. … Syndergaard threw 98 pitches in 5.2 innings. … The Mets left 12 runners.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets’ winning streak was snapped at eight, but they have won five straight series. … Granderson and Lucas Duda sat against Bumgarner. Duda appeared in the eighth as a pinch-hitter for Eric Campbell and grounded into a force out. Granderson also appeared in the game and struck out. … Michael Conforto’s streak of reaching base ended as 17 straight games, also ending a stretch of hitting a double in six consecutive games.

QUOTEBOOK: “He’ll be all right. There will be days like this.’’ – Collins on Conforto going 0-for-5.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0.62: Bumgarner’s career ERA at Citi Field.

PUT A CLOCK ON IT: A pitching coach or manager has 30 seconds from the time he steps out of the dugout to deliver his message and leave the field. Yet, instant replays drag on. There were two replays Sunday, both over a minute.

TOMORROW’S STARTER: Bartolo Colon (1-1, 3.42) goes against the Braves, who have not named their starter. Colon is 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts against the Braves.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets close the homestand with three games against the Braves, whom they swept last weekend in Atlanta. After Colon, Matt Harvey (2-3, 4.76 ERA) and Steven Matz (3-1, 3.86) will go for the Mets.