Padres avoid perfect game; win streak snapped
Venable spoils Syndergaard's bid, but San Diego manages just four hits
NEW YORK -- At no point during Tuesday's eventual 4-0 loss to the Mets at Citi Field did this particular Padres team feel destined for dubious history. No team in San Diego's history has even fallen victim to a perfect game, and that's still the case after Will Venable foiled Noah Syndergaard's attempt at perfection with a seventh-inning single.
But it was interesting for a while, as Syndergaard powered through the middle innings of an outing not unlike Clayton Kershaw's on this same field less than a week ago, collecting his 16th, 17th and 18th consecutive outs without a hiccup while most of the 26,034 present stood, cheered and tried not to jinx it.
By the time Venable stepped to the plate to lead off the seventh, most at Citi Field had one thing on their minds. Except the guys in the third-base dugout.
"No way," said first baseman Yonder Alonso. "No way. Not one percent of our guys in there thought that. We're all battling. That's the last thing we're thinking."
When Alonso smacked San Diego's third hit, a single to right in the eighth, it was about an inning too late. The Padres squandered their only chance to score against Syndergaard in the seventh, as Venable moved to third when Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada misplayed Yangervis Solarte's infield single. But Matt Kemp popped out and Justin Upton hit into an inning-ending double play, ending the threat.
"At that point, it's a two-run game," said Venable. "We're thinking get a guy on base and go from there, because we're still in the game."
San Diego had hoped to build on the momentum from a three-game win streak to close a four-game series against the Marlins. Instead it ran into Syndergaard, who was nothing like the pitcher the Padres saw June 2.
"His deal was that he was up in the zone," Alonso said about the earlier matchup, when San Diego scored seven runs in four innings off the rookie. "Today, he was for the most part down in the zone."
Syndergaard actually struck out one fewer batter than he did in that June 2 start. He allowed 10 hits and struck out 10 that night in what will go down as a wacky, feast-or-famine anomaly. Tuesday he was just dominant, allowing two balls to the outfield over the first six perfect innings. Overall, he limited the Padres to three singles over eight innings in a performance that dipped their team batting average below the Mets' for the lowest mark in baseball, at .235 over 100 games.
"What happened today, it is what it is. But generally we were in good hitters' counts," Alonso said. "With him, you can be up, 2-0, and it's like being down, 0-2."