In baseball, the best thing for a team sometimes is to get on the road and find a rhythm and relax.
For the Mets, the best thing that happened was that they got to embark on a nine-game road trip after a rocky opening homestand.
On April 13, when the Mets were last at Citi Field, Manager Terry Collins was fending off accusations of panicking and making some risky decisions to salvage a game against the Marlins that afternoon.
Collins wanted that win because they were 2-5 entering that game, and the pressure was on.
The Mets started the road trip in Cleveland on April 15, and won two of three there, before putting up 16 runs in the first two games in Philadelphia to notch wins there before losing the finale of that series. The road trip concluded with a sweep in Atlanta to make it a 7-2 trip and give them a 10-7 record.
Collins said of what the road trip did for the team, “We played pretty good. We went on the road. We went into places where offense is, you know, our guys feel comfortable hitting. We got into a situation, we got into our baseball routine. Coming to the ballpark, doing this, doing that, whatever your daily routine is, extra work, batting practice. That whole stuff that you do when you’re in the middle of the baseball season, we got to do that for the first time, and I think that had a lot to do with how we played on the road.”
The Mets’ offense was on fire on the nine-game road trip, as they put up 54 runs, 6.0 per game. The Mets had 51 extra-base hits during the road trip after just 10 in their first eight games. The Mets hit .293 during the road trip.
The Mets also got tremendous pitching on the trip, as the staff posted a 2.98 ERA, and was highlighted by Steven Matz getting his first two wins of the season.
On Monday night, in front of a raucous crowd at Citi Field, Noah Syndergaard turned in a great outing and the Mets got three home runs to beat Cincinnati 5-3.
Syndergaard was unhittable for most of the game, as he notched nine strikeouts, and only allowed one run in the first six innings.
In the seventh inning, as Syndergaaard passed 100 pitches, he gave up a single to Tyler Holt and a two-out RBI single to Zack Cozart that made it 3-2 Mets when he was pulled. Cozart came in to score on a Joey Votto RBI single off Antonio Bastardo that tied the game and gave Syndergaard a no-decision.
Collins said of Syndergaard, “Well, his stuff was really good. I didn’t think he was as sharp command-wise as he has been lately. One of the things Dan (Warthen, pitching coach) picked up on, and I still think Dan’s one of the best, if not the top, he just said ‘hey, his pace is not good tonight.’ I didn’t even think about it, but he’s absolutely right. Early in the game, the game just dragged along, it seemed like. Usually, when Noah’s pitching, he’s on the mound, he’s throwing, I think from about the fourth inningm on, he picked it up a little bit, and I thought he pitched better toward the end.”
Syndergaard has 38 strikeouts in his first four starts of the season, which ties Pedro Martinez (2005) for the most in Mets history. he has struck out at least eight batters in eight consecutive starts dating back to September 12, 2015, the third-longest streak in Mets history.
On Syndergaard’s confidence level and pitching without his best stuff, Collins said, “We aren’t gonna make an excuse, but he has had seven days off, and now he’s gonna have six more days off, and that’s why we let him go 110 (pitches) tonight, we let him go that far because he’s had so much time off and will have even more time off. He’s that kind of kid, he knows when he has to reach back, and he just has the confidence to get it.”
The Mets’ offense also kept it up on Monday night, as they got early home runs from Michael Conforto, a solo shot in the first, and Lucas Duda, a two-run shot in the third.
Conforto is hitting .378 with 10 runs scored, five doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI in 10 games since moving to the third spot in the lineup.
Duda had a big road trip, and now has four home runs and 14 RBI on the season.
Collins said of Duda’s role in the lineup, “Where he hits, you have to be an RBI guy. That’s one of the things that I know Kevin (Long) stressed is that, there’s gonna be a lot of situations where you have gimme RBIs, and that doesn’t mean just put the ball in play. He did it in Atlanta the other night, just a routine fly ball won us a game, left center field, and if he can continue to do that, he’s gonna drive in a lot of runs here. Once we get Ces (Yoenis Cespedes) back in the lineup, there’s guys on base, where you don’t need to hit a homer. You just have to hit a fly ball or that ground ball to second with a runner at third, will get you some easy RBIs. I think Lucas is feeling confident at the plate that he can do that and he’s driving in some runs.”
After Cincinnati tied it in the top of the seventh, it seemed inevitable that the Mets would get another longball to take the lead back.
Conforto opened the bottom of the seventh with a walk, and after Duda struck out, Neil Walker came to the plate and launched one to deep right that made it 5-3 Mets.
Walker has eight home runs already this season, his first with the Mets. Walker’s eight home runs in April tied Jeff Kent (1994) for the most home runs in April by a Mets’ second baseman.
With the three home runs, the Mets have homered 26 times in their last 10 games, which ties the best mark for any 10-game stretch in franchise history.