The buck stopped here.
After brutal performances in the previous two games by Zack Wheeler and — gasp — Jacob deGrom, here was Noah Syndergaard on Wednesday playing the role of slump buster and bringing respectability back to the Mets’ rotation.
With Syndergaard dominant over the first seven innings — he weakened late — and the opposition’s pitchers needing a GPS to locate the strike zone, the Mets snapped a two-game skid with a 9-6 victory over the Twins at chilly Citi Field.
“That was a step in the right direction,” Syndergaard said after pitching into the eighth inning for the first time this season.
The Mets drew 10 walks, including six in a wild fifth inning in which they scored six runs to seize control.
Syndergaard (1-1) hiccupped in the eighth after the Mets had built an eight-run lead. Overall he allowed four earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. It came a day after the team ace, deGrom, had a streak of 26 straight quality starts snapped in an ugly outing against the Twins. In the Mets’ prior game, Zack Wheeler was putrid in a loss to the Nationals.
“[Syndergaard] was much-needed,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “That start by Noah was tremendous. That’s Noah Syndergaard.”Jeurys Familia finished the eighth and Edwin Diaz pitched ninth. Familia allowed one run in the eighth on two hits and a walk before escaping further trouble. Diaz surrendered a solo homer to Mitch Garver — the Twins catcher finished the two-game series with three homers.
For Syndergaard, it was a 19th career start in which he struck out at least seven batters without issuing a walk. He admitted fatigue was a factor in the eighth, when he was removed without recording an out.
“I was on the bases for a little bit and stiffened up maybe,” Syndergaard said. “But I think I can speak on behalf of all five starting pitchers: Regardless of the situation, you are still probably going to have to pry the ball out of our cold dead hands to take us out of the game.”
In one of the wackiest innings in franchise history, the Mets scored six runs in the fifth, when three Twins pitchers simply stopped throwing strikes. Three straight batters walked before Brandon Nimmo was drilled by a pitch. Then three more batters walked before Wilson Ramos punched a two-run single to give the Mets a 6-1 lead. Ramos’ single against Trevor Hildenberger came after Twins pitchers had thrown 13 straight balls.
The Mets appeared stuck in neutral when Jeff McNeil was picked off — he froze between third base and the plate on Jake Odorizzi’s pitch to the backstop — for the second out. But walks to Amed Rosario, J.D. Davis and Syndergaard (on a full-count) started a new rally and Nimmo was plunked by Andrew Vasquez for a run. Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano and Michael Conforto all walked to force in runs.
McNeil’s single to left in the fifth gave the Mets their first hit. To that point Rosario’s walk leading off the third had accounted for the team’s only base runner.
Conforto delivered a two-run single in the seventh that helped the Mets build a cushion. McNeil’s RBI single later in the inning put the Twins in a 9-1 hole.
Syndergaard allowed a bloop RBI single to Max Kepler in the third that put the Mets in a 1-0 hole.
“Mechanically I felt probably the best I have felt in a long time so I am just going to continue to make that consistent,” Syndergaard said. “I guess when my mechanics are spot on I get a little more movement with my ball.”