SAN DIEGO -- Never underestimate baseball's ever-present power to produce statistical oddities.
Never in modern Major League history had a starting pitcher struck out double-digit batters, allowed double-digit hits and lasted fewer than five innings until Andrew Cashner did it Monday against the Mets. The Padres right-hander struck out 12 and allowed 11 hits, leaving with two outs in the fifth.
Weird, right? But this is weirder: One night later, during the exact same series in the exact same ballpark, Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard matched Cashner's feat. In a 7-2 loss to the Padres, Syndergaard struck out 10 batters with 10 hits in four innings.
"It's just one of those things," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's what makes the game great."
Accumulating double-digit hits and strikeouts in the same game is rare enough, occurring only 334 times over MLB's long history. Doing so in fewer than five innings was quite literally unheard of -- it never happened in 115 years -- until this week.
Now, apparently, it's a fad.
Syndergaard attributed his half of the quirk to a combination of excellent swing-and-miss stuff but poor location. His fourth-inning breaking ball to catcher Derek Norris, for example, was supposed to be outside. Instead, it leaked over the heart of the plate, allowing Norris to meet it with the barrel of his bat for a two-run homer.
Some soft hits during a four-run second-inning rally didn't help, including a bunt single from Cory Spangenberg to load the bases with no outs. More than anything, Syndergaard bemoaned what happened next, when he reached with his glove to try to snare Alexi Amarista's line drive back to the mound. Unable to make the catch, Syndergaard deflected it to an area where no one could reach it, allowing two runs to come home.
In sum, his outing was eerily similar to Cashner's Monday start, which featured what the Padres right-hander called "some of the best stuff I've had this season."
"It was definitely a frustrating start for me because I went out there and I felt like I had some of the best stuff I've had all year," Syndergaard said, echoing Cashner's comments. "It was kind of like the start that Cashner had … not a whole lot of hard contact, just kind of hitting balls where people weren't. You can try to take some positives away from it, like the 10 strikeouts. And I was fortunate that I didn't walk anybody. But I didn't get the job done."