Noah Syndergaard pitched pretty well last night in San Diego. The bad news is that his team let him down on many levels on Friday night—offensively, defensively, and on the basepaths.
Thor needed to be perfect. Instead he was merely very good. He routinely got ahead in the count, including getting a first-pitch strike advantage on 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced, on his way to pumping in 69% of his pitches for strikes. While he got 16 two-strike counts, he had trouble putting those hitters away.
This was a problem in the opening frame as Syndergaard got ahead 0-2 on leadoff hitter Jon Jay, who then squared a heater the opposite way for a double inside the left field line. Some time later with one out in the first, Matt Kemp officially got them the win by guiding a 1-2 slider to medium depth in center, where Juan Lagares had a shot at throwing out Jay at the plate—until he double clutched and sent his throw well wide of home plate.
That run was all San Diego needed, as the Mets didn't do much at the dish. Syndergaard himself failed when he whiffed on a bunt attempt for strike three in the third inning after battery-mate Rene Rivera had led off with a walk.
Rivera showed why Sandy Alderson picked him up, though, and why he may well become Syndergaard's personal catcher of the moment, with a trio of impressive throws to second on steal attempts, cutting down one runner. When Travis d'Arnaud comes back from the disabled list, it will be interesting to see whether it will be Rivera or rarely-used Eric Campbell who gets a flight to Vegas.
There was nothing Rivera could do when Alexei Ramirez got a half-dozen-step jump on Syndergaard in the fourth, which put runners at second and third with two down. Derek Norris then skied a 2-2 pitch toward the first-base railing, where Lucas Duda put in a milquetoast effort to catch it without hauling it in. This cost Thor another six pitches before he could strike out Norris, and possibly another inning of work. First base ump Hunter Wendlestedt gets a shout-out for missing a check-swing strike three a couple pitches later.
In the fifth, Syndergaard walked .146- hitting eighth-place hitter Jamile Weeks to begin the inning, who then proceeded to earn his first stolen base of the year by millimeters on a perfect Rivera throw. Jay then followed with a single up the middle that scored Weeks, who was already in motion towards third with designs on his second stolen base of the year.
Now down 2-0, it made even less sense when third-base coach Tim Teufel sent Asdrubal Cabrera hurtling towards certain doom at home plate when Wilmer Flores ripped a double in the seventh. Cabrera, who had two of the Mets' three hits, deserved better than to be beaten by the throw by 30 feet, but here we were. Norris dropped the ball after the tag, prompting a challenge by Collins which may well not have been successful even if Cabrera had touched the plate ever, which he didn't.
The Mets nightly bullpen assortment—Jim Henderson, Jerry Blevins, and Addison Reed in this case—did their job, giving New York one last stab at redemption in the ninth. After a four-pitch walk to David Wright, Fernando Rodney gave Yoenis Cespedes a heater down the middle, which Ces took a big whack at but could only foul back. He was out in front of the next offering he put bat to, a fly out short of the warning track in left, and that was the last time his team would put the ball in play. After a walk to Duda put the tying runs on, Cabrera and Alejandro De Aza went down on strikes to make the pain and shame of the evening that much more poignant.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: None
Big losers: Wilmer Flores, -9.9% WPA; Juan Lagares, -8.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda walks in the ninth to put two one with one out, +7.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: John Jay's RBI single in the fifth, -9.0% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +1.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: -51.7% WPA
GWRBI!: Matt Kemp