MIAMI -- Noah Syndergaard's seventh career start against the Marlins was much like the first six -- dominant.After a quick turnaround from Saturday night's extra-innings loss, which included 4 1/3 innings from the Mets' bullpen, New York needed a quality start from its horse on Sunday and the right-hander delivered.
MIAMI -- Noah Syndergaard's seventh career start against the Marlins was much like the first six -- dominant.
After a quick turnaround from Saturday night's extra-innings loss, which included 4 1/3 innings from the Mets' bullpen, New York needed a quality start from its horse on Sunday and the right-hander delivered. Syndergaard went seven frames, striking out seven and allowing three runs in the Mets' 4-3 win at Marlins Park.
Jose Reyes and Michael Conforto homered for New York in the win.
The right-hander has been lights-out against Miami in his career, particularly at Marlins Park. Sunday was no exception. Syndergaard improved to 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA in seven career starts against the Marlins, and he now has four victories in five career starts in South Florida. Syndergaard's five career victories against the Marlins are his most against any opponent.
After Starlin Castro's one-out RBI single in the first tied the game at one apiece, Syndergaard retired nine straight Marlins -- for that stretch, it was vintage Thor. For nine straight batters, the ball did not leave the infield. The right-hander struck out four batters over that stretch.
On Sunday, Syndergaard's slider was the chief catalyst for his success. Of his 101 pitches, 41 were sliders -- 12 of 17 swinging strikes came on Syndergaard's out pitch.
"It was really good," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "I think his ability to go strike to ball with that slider and get that swing and miss is big. I think he hung one of them for an RBI with two outs, but when it's going that good, you kind of have to live by it."
Seven strong innings was exactly what the doctor ordered. Robert Gsellman pitched a scoreless eighth and Seth Lugo registered his first career save, closing it down in the ninth.
"I felt a lot better mechanically today," Syndergaard said, recalling the improvements he's made since returning from his most recent stint on the disabled list. "Worked on it a lot in between starts and I felt really comfortable out there. Really had to dig deep in that seventh inning to get through it."
In their third day of a 20-day stretch without a scheduled off-day, the Mets savor opportunities to save the bullpen from overuse, especially the day after an extra-innings game and with Callaway keeping a close eye on his starting pitchers' innings.
Said Syndergaard on his ability to pitch late into games moving forward: "I'm just trying to get my pitch count back up and lengthen some ballgames. I feel like I'm heading in the right direction."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After Gsellman's scoreless eighth, Callaway went with Lugo to convert the save with a one-run lead. Gsellman has six career saves -- Lugo entered the day with zero. The Mets manager explained that it was simply matchups that sparked the decision.
"It was mainly just the order of the people that were coming up," Callaway said. "Lugo's curveball against who we figured would be coming in to pinch-hit and the top of the order was going to play the best."
Lugo allowed a leadoff base knock to All-Star J.T. Realmuto, but he quickly erased the baserunner with a 4-6-3 double play. Miguel Rojas followed with a single, but Castro grounded out to third to end the game. With Jeurys Familia now with Oakland, Lugo is a candidate to get some saves alongside Gsellman and others in the bullpen moving forward.
"I thought he kept his poise really well and threw a strike when he needed to," Callaway said.
Sunday's win sealed the Mets' first series win away from Citi Field in almost four months. The last time the Mets won a series on the road was April 27-29, when they took two of three from the Padres. Further, after winning the series against the Reds earlier in the week, Sunday marks the first series winning streak since New York opened the season with five straight series victories.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Conforto unloaded on a 1-2 pitch from southpaw Wei-Yin Chen in the sixth inning, taking a hanging slider 395 feet over the right-field wall. According to Statcast™, the ball left his bat at 106.6 mph with a 25-degree launch angle.
"Any time you see the ball go out of the park it feels good," Conforto said. "Lefties have been a topic of discussion -- I think us left-handed hitters who have been here the last couple years have had a chance to see a lot of left-handers this season, and it's been a good experience for us to get in there and get comfortable."
With the Mets' outfield ravaged by injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Juan Lagares, Conforto has been an everyday starter regardless of the opposing starting pitcher. The regular exposure to left-handers has started paying off.
"The fact that he's been able to see more lefties -- he's been consistently playing against them and starting against them -- I think that has really allowed him to be a lot more comfortable in the box against those guys," Callaway said.
HE SAID IT
"That was my third start back from the DL stint and having that virus, so now that I have my mechanics back, I can start working on speed to home plate. I feel like I did a pretty good job today, three or four stolen bases. If they're going to steal a base with two outs, so be it, I don't really care. I have enough confidence in my pitches to get the next guy out." -- Syndergaard, on Miami's three stolen bases Sunday
Jacob deGrom will face off with Luis Severino in a marquee pitching matchup in the Bronx, concluding the 2018 Subway Series on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. deGrom has had trouble against the Yankees in his career, going 1-4 with a 3.67 ERA against them.
Max Goodman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @Max_Goodman97.