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Thor extends dominance as Mets sweep Tribe

Lights-out in 2nd half, righty notches win in rain-shortened shutout
@SlangsOnSports
August 23, 2019

NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard has been getting on track at the right time for the Mets, and that continued in Thursday night’s rain-shortened 2-0 win over the Indians at Citi Field. Syndergaard entered with a 1.65 ERA in his previous four starts. With a scoreless six-inning effort -- cut

NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard has been getting on track at the right time for the Mets, and that continued in Thursday night’s rain-shortened 2-0 win over the Indians at Citi Field. Syndergaard entered with a 1.65 ERA in his previous four starts. With a scoreless six-inning effort -- cut short by a rain delay of two hours and 28 minutes -- he lowered his ERA over his last five starts to 1.35.

Jeurys Familia and Paul Sewald each tossed a scoreless inning before the game was delayed by rain again in the bottom of the eighth and eventually called.

Box score

Syndergaard’s ERA is now at a season-low 3.71. A month ago, it was above 4.25, while in May, it spent time higher than 5.00.

Syndergaard has strung together eight straight starts of at least six innings and has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last five outings.

“You see him good a lot, but tonight was really good,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “He had a great changeup -- it was really good in the bullpen. He leaned on it a lot with all those switch-hitters that are obviously hitting left-handed against him. And he put up zeros. When you have to stop the game when he’s going so good, you’re like, ‘Oh, no.’"

This stretch from Syndergaard since the All-Star break has come while the Mets have propelled themselves into the thick of the National League Wild Card race, keeping pace again on Thursday. The Mets are an MLB-best 27-10 since the break and sit 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot.

In the midst of a homestand against contending teams, the victory completed a sweep of the Indians and extended the Mets’ win streak to five games. Up next, they’ll face the NL East-leading Braves this weekend.

“When we play baseball the way we’re capable of, we can compete with anybody, and we’ve been doing that lately,” Callaway said.

Syndergaard threw 16 changeups, allowing just one hit on the pitch while using it as an out pitch four times -- including for strikeouts of Francisco Lindor and Greg Allen.

Just how well was Syndergaard throwing? Well, he had a perfect game going entering the sixth inning before allowing a single to Tyler Naquin with one out -- the lone hit that Syndergaard allowed on that changeup.

“Just trying to see him up,” Naquin said of his approach in that at-bat. “I hit a changeup down. You’ve got to be on time with his heater, that’s his best pitch … a 97-99 mph two-seam. Being able to adjust to the offspeed, if you’re on time with the heater ... but he’s making good pitches. He’s a good pitcher.”

Was Callaway aware of the perfect game while it was still in progress?

“You think about that,” he said. “You don’t say it, but you’re definitely thinking about it. You know, where the pitch count was, and how he was going and the fact that his changeup was so good ... it crept in. But there’s still a lot of game left. But he threw a heck of a game.”

Syndergaard credited Wilson Ramos, who laced a two-run double in the fourth, saying that his presence behind the plate allowed the big righty to focus on his pitches.

“I was just really able to throw with a lot of conviction today,” Syndergaard said.

Entering Thursday, Syndergaard had a 4.50 ERA in 78 innings with Ramos behind the plate. But Ramos has now caught two of Syndergaard’s past three starts -- along with his Aug. 10 start vs. the Nationals at Citi Field, where he went seven innings and allowed two runs -- which indicates that perhaps that ERA is skewed by early-season struggles.

Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.