Noah Syndergaard

Lackluster Mets Loss

There’s no other way to put it.  This was an ugly game from top to bottom from the Mets.  Noah Syndergaard allowed three earned and was chased after four innings but what has been a pretty poor Phillies offense.  That’s what happens when you uncharacteristically allow two homers in a game (Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera).

The Mets offense only mustered three hits off of Zach Eflin and two of those were infield singles by Amed Rosario. Overall, the Mets would only muster six hits in the 4-0 shutout with Rosario getting three of those hits.

Overall, this just looked like two teams whose seasons were soon coming to an end playing like it was a getaway day.  Fortunately, with how well the Mets have played in the second half games like these have been few and far between.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo has drawn at least one walk in seven consecutive games.

Red Sox No Match For Mets

One of the two teams tonight was the best team in baseball. The other was the Boston Red Sox.

It’s an absurd statement for sure, and yet with the bats going and Noah Syndergaard dealing, the Mets looked like world beaters.

Over seven innings, Syndergaard allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out six. He really kept the Red Sox at bay at the plate but not the basepaths.

There were three stolen bases with the most egregious being an Ian Kinsler stolen base. On the play, Kindler basically walked to second (not an exaggeration). Syndergaard would get his revenge by picking off Kinsler in the sixth.

The stolen bases wouldn’t matter as the Red Sox couldn’t touch Syndergaard. Simultaneously, the Red Sox could not get the Mets out.

Left-handed pitcher William Cuevas would make his first career start, and he wouldn’t last long partially because he couldn’t get left-handed hitters out.

Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce hit back-to-back first inning doubles giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. That grew to 4-0 in the second when Bruce hit a second inning three run homer.

Brian Johnson would come on for the Red Sox and calm things down. Still Jeff McNeil would get to him hitting his third homer of the season. McNeil had yet another multi-hit game, and he had an incredible defensive play to end the seventh:

The Mets offense wasn’t done either. In the eighth inning against Tyler Thornburg, Austin Jackson and Amed Rosario would homer giving the Mets an 8-0 lead. The Rosario homer was a classic majestic shot over the Green Monster. Like McNeil, Rosario had yet another multi-hit game himself.

That left Jerry Blevins and Tyler Bashlor to close up shop. With their two scoreless innings, the Mets shut out the best offensive team in the majors. In fact, the Red Sox have the most runs and RBI with the best team batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS. They have the second highest wRC+.

For their part, the Mets had Thor. That’s why they won.

Game Notes: It was the sixth time all season the Red Sox were shut out. There was a rat running in the Mets dugout during the game. It was not a Wilpon or Jose Reyes.

Things Can Never Just Be Good With The Mets

Last night, the Mets were absolutely rolling knocking Zach Eflin out after three and Jerad Eickhoff, who was making his first appearance of the year, out after one.

Tomas Nido, who was catching either because Kevin Plawecki was hit with another pitch or because Noah Syndergaard likes having a personal catcher, cleared the bases with an RBI double to give the Mets a 3-0 second inning lead.

Todd Frazier hit a three inning homer in the third giving the Mets a 6-0 lead leaving you to wonder how long before Gabe Kapler started going to the position players.

Jeff McNeil was great going 3-for-5 with two runs, and a triple. Michael Conforto surpassed Asdrubal Cabrera for the team lead in RBI. Not too long ago, Conforto also surpassed Cabrera for the team lead in homers. Jay Bruce looked good again at the plate going 2-for-2 with two runs, an RBI, and two walks.

However, this is the Mets, so nothing can be this easy. Not even in a 10-5 win that they led 7-0 heading into the sixth and 9-2 after six.

Dominic Smith followed a good game by going 0-for-2 with a walk before leaving the game with a groin injury. He was replaced by Jack Reinheimer for reasons only Mickey Callaway knows.

Speaking of Reinheimer, you’d be hard pressed to explain why he’s here and Luis Guillorme isn’t.

That wasn’t the worst of it. No, that was Cesar Hernandez hitting a hard liner that went off Syndergaard’s ribs. It may have chased him from the game, but he was able to laugh about it later:

Syndergaard’s final line was 6.2 innings, 12 hits, four runs, four earned, five walks, and four strikeouts. The low strikeouts are alarming, but not as much as the walks or the career high in hits allowed.

Still, this was mostly a fun game with some terrific signs for the Mets going forward. Here’s hoping the Mets didn’t burn through all their offense for this series with Jacob deGrom going Sunday.

Game Notes: Bobby Wahl was placed on the 60 day DL to make room for Jose Lobaton on the roster.

The Complete Thor

When he was struggling earlier in the year, Noah Syndergaard was saying he was struggling now, but he’ll dominate in September. With how he had struggled in his last few starts, this seemed like a punchline waiting to happen. As it turns out, Syndergaard was right.

Yesterday, he was simply brilliant in his first ever complete game. If not for a Jay Bruce throwing error, on a ball he should not have pursued and probably not thrown, the Giants would not have had a base runner since the fourth inning.

If not for the Alen Hanson third inning triple, the Giants probably never score a run.

All told, Syndergaard allowed one run on just two hits while walking just one and striking out 11.

He’d get his 10th win of the season as the Mets gave Syndergaard run support starting with Michael Conforto‘s 20th homer of the season:

https://mobile.twitter.com/mets/status/1036353184292331520

Syndergaard got more run support in the eighth as he helped himself a bit.

After a Tomas Nido leadoff single, Syndergaard bunted it just right enough of the pitcher to get Nido, who got a great jump, to second.

Amed Rosario singled to set up runners at the corners, and he’d then take the double play out of the equation by stealing second. Jeff McNeil brought him and Nido home with a two RBI single giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.

With that three run lead and Syndergaard still at 99 on the gun, Mickey Callaway had every excuse he needed to keep Syndergaard in the game.

The end result was a 114 pitch masterpiece and finally a return to the Thor we had been awaiting all season long.

Game Notes: Syndergaard’s 10 wins leads the team. With the win, Syndergaard became the first Met to beat the Giants two times in a year since Steve Trachsel did it in 2003.

Cubs Make Thor Look Human

Despite the Phillies claiming Jose Bautista off waivers, the Mets risked getting a deal getting nixed due to injury by putting him in the lineup. The reason for the decision was Bautista’s numbers against Jon Lester.

Essentially, the Mets risked a possible piece for the future to win a meaningless August game.

Perhaps inspired the Mets got off and running. Amed Rosario hit a single on the first pitch of the game, stole second, and scored on an Austin Jackson RBI single.

In what would become a theme for the night, Noah Syndergaard immediately away the lead starting with a Daniel Murphy leadoff double.

Murphy did not seem as if he was initially going to second, but with Michael Conforto not fielding it cleanly with the backhand, Murphy took the extra base. He’d score on an Anthony Rizzo RBI double.

To his credit, Syndergaard got out of that jam partially because he picked Javier Baez off first, and the rundown was executed well enough to prevent Murphy from scoring from third. That was a moot point after the Rizzo double.

The Mets reclaimed the lead in the second with Conforto hitting an absolute monster home run:

The second inning rally began anew with Kevin Plawecki drawing a two out four pitch walk. Surprisingly, Lester then walked Syndergaard leading to Rosario hitting an RBI single to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.

It was a very uneven game for Plawecki. Behind the plate, he struggled, but at the plate, he excelled.

In the third, Syndergaard seemed close to working his way around a Javier Baez leadoff double. With runners at the corners and two outs, Syndergaard threw a pitch in the dirt.

Rather than getting down to block the call, Plawecki tried to backhand it leading to a wild pitch and a run scoring. Subsequently that at-bat, Syndergaard threw one in the dirt, and Plawecki didn’t get down quick enough. Fortunately, Jason Heyward didn’t move up because he lost track of the ball.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t matter.

After a Willson Contreras infield single, Mickey Callaway ordered an intentional walk to load the bases. With two outs and Lester up, a career .092 hitter at the plate, it should have been inning over.

Instead, Syndergaard threw a fat pitch, and Lester hit a two RBI single giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

In total, Syndergaard pitched six uninspiring innings allowing four earned on nine hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Maybe it’s all the missed time, but Thor is not Thor right now.

When he departed, he was in line for the loss. That was until Plawecki got the run back he allowed with a game tying homer in the seventh:

With the much improved Mets bullpen, it seemed like the Mets were going to actually have a chance to pull this one out. Unfortunately, Jerry Blevins would have his first poor outing on over a month.

Rizzo led off the top of the seventh with a ground rule double which bounced off the tape:

Ben Zobrist, who has really become a Mets killer, gave the Cubs the lead with an RBI double. Heyward singled putting runners at the corners with no outs leading to Callaway bringing in Drew Smith.

Smith was able to navigate his way out of that jam by yielding just an RBI groundout to Contreras.

Daniel Zamora pitched the eighth, and he blew through the first two hitters he faced. Then his seemingly unhittable slider was hit by Rizzo for a home run giving the Cubs a 7-4 lead heading into the ninth.

Despite going 0-for-3 after being put in the lineup for his great numbers against Lester, Bautista would draw a leadoff walk off Pedro Strop.

Predictably, Jose Reyes didn’t come through instead hitting into a fielder’s choice.

That didn’t stop the Mets from loading the bases with one out. With the bases loaded, the Cubs went to Jesse Chavez for the save.

He dominated Rosario getting him to strike out. Chavez would then strike out Jackson on a couple of dubious strike calls, especially strike three, to end the game.

At the end of the day, Syndergaard looked less god than human, and Bautista went hitless in a game he played due to his bat.

Game Notes: Rosario was picked off by Lester for venturing way off first. Jeff McNeil‘s 11 game hitting streak ended with him popping out in a pinch hitting appearance.

Dom Played First And Homered In Mets Win

Since the All Star Break, the Mets are playing much better baseball. In fact, the team is actually two games over .500, and they have won 12 of their last 19 games.

One of the major reasons for the improved play is the Mets are finally playing their talented younger players, and they’re taking advantage of their opportunity.

Last night, that included Dominic Smith, who not only played first base, but he also homered off Casey Kelly:

That second inning homer did not end the rally.

Jack Reinheimer hit a two out single, and Jose Bautista, who leadoff for some reason, reached on a Brandon Crawford error.

Jeff McNeil then drove home Reinheimer with an RBI single. With that single and his first inning triple, McNeil reached base safely in seven consecutive at-bats.

What’s amazing about that first inning triple is McNeil didn’t score even with Todd Frazier reaching on a Crawford throwing error.

Speaking of Frazier, he would drive home the third run of the inning on a ground rule double.

In this 2016 Wild Card Game rematch, Noah Syndergaard would give back two of the runs right away.

After consecutive singles and Kelly’s sacrifice bunt, Syndergaard got Steven Duggar to hit an RBI groundout. Joe Panik then hit a two out RBI single to pull the Giants to within a run.

Syndergaard would shut the Giants down from there. In six innings, he would throw 101 pitches limiting the Giants to two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out five.

With Bautista hitting a solo homer in the fourth, he’d depart with a 4-2 lead.

Mickey Callaway then put in Drew Smith for what seemed like his first high leverage situation.

First batter he faced, Austin Slater, hit a homer.

With one out in the inning, he’d hit Chase d’Arnaud with a pitch before Duggar popped out on a bunt attempt.

Callaway then went to Jerry Blevins, who retired Panik to get out of the jam.

Frazier got that run back with a homer in the bottom of the seventh,

Robert Gsellman was dominant in the bottom of the eight striking out two of the three batters he faced.

Callaway tabbed Daniel Zamora to get Crawford to start the ninth before giving the ball to Paul Sewald, who got the final two outs to earn his first career save.

With that, the Mets won 5-3. Who knew that this team could win young players getting playing time and a chance to succeed?

Game Recap: With the win, the Mets have ensured at least a series split. The Mets have now either won or split their past five series.

Mets Made Little League Classic a Big Event

Believe it or not, two years ago, Todd Frazier was part of a Toms River team who won the Little League World Series.  Of course, you believe it because we are reminded of it all the time. But it wasn’t just Frazier with Little League World Series exploits.  Michael Conforto is the only player to homer in both the World Series and the Little League World Series.

Considering the Mets connection with to the Little League World Series, it made them the natural choice to participate in the Little League Classic.

What made the choice even better was how much the team embraced it.  Frazier was out there signing autographs. Jacob deGrom was interviewing Little Leaguers.  Noah Syndergaard was sharing pitching grips with members of the Spanish team.  Really, to a man, the Mets were taking pictures with the young players.  Syndergaard and deGrom would join Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler in watching the game from the stands with the Staten Island Little League team.

The Mets also embraced the challenge on the field, which included Jason Vargas having his best start in a Mets uniform.

Surprisingly, the Phillies could not get to Vargas until the sixth when Carlos Santana hit a two run home run off of him.  After a Wilson Ramos double, Mickey Callaway brought in Seth Lugo, the Quarterrican, to get out of the jam.  At that point, it was too little too late for the Phillies.

The Mets first rally was started by Frazier (who else?).  His leadoff single against Nick Pivetta was the first of four straight singles.  The Jose Bautista and Kevin Plawecki singles would plate two runs. After a Vargas sacrifice bunt, Amed Rosario would hit a two RBI single to give the Mets an early 4-0 lead.

The Mets lead would grow to 7-0 before the Phillies would even score a run off of Vargas.  Jeff McNeil plated two runs with an RBI single in the fourth, and Rosario plated a run with another RBI single in the sixth.

Things were going so well for the Mets that Dominic Smith, who was called-up as the 26th man for the game, would hit an RBI pinch hit double in the eight.  With Brandon Nimmo hurting, the Mets are now considering keeping Smith up to play left field, which would obviously be the right thing to do.

Ultimately, the final score would be 8-1 as Lugo, Drew Smith, and Daniel Zamora, who was throwing filthy sliders, kept the Phillies off the board.

Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera went 1-for-17 against his former team in this series.

No Mets Player’s Weekend Jerseys For Kids

One of the best ideas Major League Baseball has had in quite a while is Player’s Weekend. It’s a fun way to let fans see a bit of each player’s personality, which is just great marketing.

Really, in the end, baseball does stuff like this to market the game to young fans.

To a certain extent, it does work as I know my son wanted a Noah Syndergaard “Thor” shirsey. As a parent, whenever my son shows the slightest interest in both baseball and the Mets, I try to cultivate it (within reason).

With that in mind, I went to both MLB.com and Fanatics to try to get the jersey. No dice.

The best I could do is $21.99 plus shipping for a Player’s Weekend hat, which is an absurd price to pay for a specialty hat for a kid.

Sure, some of the other teams, emphasis on some, had player shirseys available. Notably, the Yankees had Didi Gregorious, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez available.

And no, the off logo shirsey does not really count. If you can recreate the shirsey for the other teams, you could’ve for the Mets.

What makes it all the more absurd is the Mets are wearing the Player’s Weekend uniforms in the Little League Classic.

Basically, they want kids to go see these players, but under no circumstances do they want them to be able to get their favorite player’s shirsey.

There’s not even a personalization option.

This is just bad business, and it’s an unforced error. Ultimately, if you’re going to do promotions like this to partially generate interest from younger fans, allow them to get the shirsey.

Nola Is Just Better Than Syndergaard

Two years ago, Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Nola would have been a complete mismatch with Syndergaard being a Cy Young candidate and Nola fighting his way to have his results match his stuff.

Today, like most of this season, the roles were reversed.

In what is a three headed race for the National League Cy Young with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, Nola continued to make his case.

In seven innings, he limited the Mets to just one run in three hits while walking one and striking out 11.

That one run came in the fourth on a Todd Frazier sacrifice fly scoring Jeff McNeil.

By that point, it was 3-1 Phillies because the Phillies jumped all over Syndergaard with a three run first inning. The first run cane courtesy of an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI double.

Really, Syndergaard labored through the entire game with him not recording a single 1-2-3 inning.

Another indication was how he finally got a run of support from his offense, and he gave that run right back in the bottom of the inning.

All told, Syndergaard needed a season high 115 pitches just to get through 5.2 innings. In his 5.2 innings of work, he would allow four earned on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Another troubling sign for Syndergaard is the stolen bases are back. On the night, the Phillies were a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts. It wasn’t speedsters like Cesar Hernandez either. Carlos Santana and Jorge Alfaro would as well. For Alfaro, it was the first of his career.

In that sixth inning, Syndergaard left with a runner on second and two out. Daniel Zamora would make his MLB debut, and he would strike out Hernandez to end the inning.

Zamora’s MLB debut was great with him not allowing any hits and his walking one and striking out two in 1.1 scoreless innings.

Importantly, Zamora kept the Mets in the game with a chance to tie it after Nola departed.

In the eighth, Jeff McNeil hit a flyball to shallow left center just past the outstretched arm of Maikel Franco. With the ball briefly on no man’s land, McNeil hustled his way to second for a double.

McNeil then scored on an Austin Jackson RBI single just ahead of Rhys Hoskins throw.

Gabe Kapler then lifted Victor Arano for the left-handed Adam Morgan to face Michael Conforto.

Conforto would battle back from 0-2 to a full count, but he would strike out looking leaving the Mets down 4-2.

Pat Neshek got the save opportunity for the Phillies, and the Mets did get the tying run to the plate again. This time, Wilmer Flores flew out to right to end the game.

The Mets once again showed fight, but in the end, they lost because somehow, some way, Nola has become a much better pitcher than Syndergaard.

Game Notes: Bobby Wahl was placed on the 10 day disabled list, which made room for Zamora to get called up to the majors.

Jose Urena Was Wrong, Keith Hernandez Wasn’t

Last night, Jose Urena channeled his inner Roger Clemens and instead of buzzing a player off the plate or hitting him in the butt, he threw his hardest first pitch of the season directly at Ronald Acuna.  Put simply, it was as dirty and dangerous as a play as there is in baseball.

Hidden beneath what Urena did, there lies a hard-nosed old-school baseball philosophy which harkens back to intimidating pitchers like Bob Gibson and Pedro Martinez.  Don’t let a batter get too comfortable in the batter’s box, especially a red hot hitter like Acuna.

With respect to Acuna, he is hitting .339/.433/.714 with three doubles, six homers, and 17 RBI against the Marlins this season.  He had three straight games with a leadoff homer.  In a different day and age, getting plunked or brushed off the plate might’ve been expected.  That philosophy was clumsily explained by Hernandez during yesterday’s telecast:

Again, Hernandez is explaining an old school philosophy where if you are hitting bombs and leaning over the plate, the pitcher’s duty is to bust a batter in and make them uncomfortable. And as he explained, when you do hit someone, you hit them in the “fanny” as Keith likes to call it.

The ultimate issue here is people creating a divide that doesn’t need to exist between an old-school philosophy and the modern game.  After all, Noah Syndergaard threw a pitch up and somewhat in to Alcides Escobar, who was having a great postseason, on the first pitch of Game 3 of the 2015 World Series.

Looking at Syndergaard, some of that old school philosophy is alive and well in younger players.  It is important to note when Syndergaard has utilized that old school philosophy of throwing inside or retaliating, he has done it the right way.  He has thrown it up but not near the head.  He threw a fastball behind Chase Utley, but not close enough for that fastball to actually make contact with Utley.

Of course, in the case of Syndergaard, he has always had terrific control, so when he does these things, you can trust him in sending that message even if there still exists a possibility he could miss.

That said, what Syndergaard has done is not what Urena did.  Urena stepped to the mound not just to make a batter uncomfortable.  He went to the mound with an intent to injure.  That’s what you are doing when you throw a 98 MPH fastball right at someone in a spot where he cannot possibly get out of the way.

There is no defending Urena’s actions, but there is defending the mindset where you make batters uncomfortable at the plate.  That’s part of a mindset.  There’s just a right way and a wrong way to do it.  As Keith noted, the right way is to brush the batter back or hit him in the fanny.  That’s not remotely close to what Urena did, and that’s why he’s entirely in the wrong.