There was the continued emergence of New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard at Citi Field Wednesday afternoon. He got the 7-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies and became the first pitcher in team history to have at least five or more strikeouts in each of his first four career games.
He finished with six strikeouts. The 7.1 innings and 101 pitches continued to show Syndergaard’s emergence and there was talk about the fastball and the nasty curveball. But on a day when the middle of the Mets lineup drove in six runs, the talk was also about Syndergaard at the plate with his three hits and first career home run.
Yes, manager Terry Collins may have a bat off the bench if this six man pitching rotation transpires and Syndergaard, with that frame of a power hitter could provide the punch.
More importantly the Mets in this three game series with the Phillies did what they had to do, that is win against a team in their division that they have dominated,. They have won eight of nine games against the last place Phillies.
And it was the middle of their lineup that was the talk. The Mets need to continue seeing production coming from Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Michael Cuddyer, more so because David Wright is not expected back anytime soon with a spinal issue that currently has the Mets captain seeing a specialist in California.
Said Collins: “You gotta win games you are supposed to win. It helps we are familiar with the Phillies Hopefully we pitch like we did the past three days.”
Including the two home runs from Lucas Duda, his fifth in the last five games, the middle of that lineup put a smile on Collins on his 66th birthday.
Collins added, “These are the guys who got to get it done. These three guys swing the bats we will be dangerous.” He made reference to leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson leading off and getting on base Murphy had three hits and and drove in a run, and Cuddyer drove in two more runs adding to his RBI total at home.
Duda is the key to all this, coming off a 30-home run season. Those expectations are what the Mets want to see more as the season progresses. He continues to hit against the shift and the two home runs went deep to right. He has also adapted well to hitting left handed pitching as four of his eight home runs have come against the lefty.
“Like I said , I swung the bat well today,” Duda said. “Me and Murph swinging the bat well, I think if we click on all cylinders we will be a tough team to beat. Cuddyer also hit his fifth home run, the second this week against Phillies pitching that went deep into the second deck in left.
That home run brought Duda to say about the 36-year old Cuddyer “When he’s swinging the bat well he’s really special.”
To his credit, Cuddyer is that experienced hitter who has seen a team offense go hot and cold during a long season. But the Mets acquired him during the off-season with hopes he could provide punch in the middle and he has hit in 11 of his last 12 games at home.
Citi Field could become a contagious hitting situation for Cuddyer, and by all means the Mets are expecting the hits and run production also on the road, because away from Citi Field the offense as was seen last weekend in Pittsburgh does not seem to click.
The Mets away from Citi Field are 7-15 opposed to their 20-6 record at home.
“That’s what offenses do,” Cuddyer commented.. “Its the old adage…..hitting is contagious. You put guys in the lineup to drive in runs. You hope they come through in these situations.”
More importantly, the Mets did what they had to do. The middle could emerge also to be leaders as well as the pitching of syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese and the eventual return of Dillon Gee.
It was a bounce back series against the Phillies, with a well deserved day off Thursday and the Marlins coming in for three games starting Friday night, a team the Mets have also handled well.
And at anytime the middle of this lineup is capable of doing damage.