Contagious pitching can be like the hitting. You can say that about the Mets the past two games at Citi Field. Jacob deGrom had to improve and he delivered Wednesday night in a Mets loss to the Reds. Next day it was time for Noah Syndergaard to turn the corner.
And of course, because it’s contagious, Syndergaard delivered and came up big. He was “Thor” and his third career complete game shutout, 1-0, made Mets history. His second home run of the season in the third inning was the first time a Mets starter hit a ball out of the park and went the distance with a shutout.
The only Mets run, a Noah Syndergaard home run. The last time a team won a 1-0 game with the one-run coming from a pitcher via the home run was August 26, 2017 when Gerrit Cole hit a solo shot in a Pirates win at Cincinnati.
Baseball is that unique game, Isn’t it? The Reds have that distinction twice of being shutout with the complete game and home run coming from a pitcher. The Mets could care less about the history that was achieved before a slim Thursday matinee crowd of 21,445.
Point is, Noah Syndergaard has returned. There were doubts about what was going on, Mechanics, delivery, cold weather? Throw that out the window after his dominance that also included 10 strikeouts. That’s 15 times in his career the strikeouts have come via double-digits.
The domination allowed manager Mickey Callaway to give his bullpen a well and needed rest as the Mets departed for a six game road swing to Milwaukee and San Diego.
“Confidence,” Callaway said about the right-hander. “He used his curveball really well, fastball. He went out there and did what we needed him to do. We don’t know how we get through the rest of the game if he doesn’t complete it.”
He had it. And Noah Syndergaard completed the game with that confidence. It was something he set out to do. That last start against the Brewers there was concern after allowing five runs, earned and a season high 10- hits.
Similar to deGrom, Syndergaard was behind the hitters in his past few starts. The fastball was not effective and neither was the curve. Thursday afternoon, the sinker could not be touched and the Reds got frustrated leaving their bats on their shoulders
But on this day, there were no issues for Noah Syndergaard
“Conviction in the pitches,” he said. “Things are starting to click with us.” In other words , and after deGrom got it right, the pitching rotation is feeding off each other as it always seems to be in baseball.
“Guys in a rotation want to outdo the other guy,” Callaway said. “It’s a friendly competition that leads staffs on a role.”
And that can also apply to the hitting which went cold in this four-game series with the Reds. Again the game is contagious and the manager is hoping the same type of feeding off one another with the lineup will occur as it did with deGrom and Syndergaard the past two games.
At one point, after the second inning, Syndergaard retired eight consecutive Reds. He was rolling along and Callaway had no intention going to the bullpen The pitch count was at the economical stage. He finished with 104 of which 74 went for strikes,
There was that conviction. In the eighth inning, Syndergaard threw a nasty 98 -slider past pinch hitter Joey Votto that got him looking to retire the side.
“One-run wrecking crew,” Pete Alonso said. He had the best view as Callaway gave his rookie and NL Player of the month of April a day off.
But the best view this day also was this awesome feeling about Noah Syndergaard. He made it a point to turn this around. And the conviction was there. If the Mets are going to be a part of this expected run for a postseason spot in October, there was never any question that deGrom and Syndergaard are the key.
Good pitching will go places. Going deep into those games, that gives a taxed and overused bullpen some relief.
Jacob deGrom gets his next turn Monday night in San Diego. Noah Syndergaard follows the next night and there are no concerns about arm , elbow or shoulder issues. This is where Mickey Callaway and the Mets want to be.
Contagious? Feeding off each other? Whatever word or term is used does not matter. What’s important is the obvious. Noah Syndergaard along with Jacob deGrom gave the Mets the quality starts they are known for.