NEW YORK -- Needing a win to enter this coming week's showdown in Washington with some momentum, the Mets on Sunday let their recently minted ace carry them to one.
Quite clearly New York's best pitcher at this juncture of the season, Noah Syndergaard struck out 11 batters en route to a 3-1 win over the Brewers at Citi Field. Allowing nothing more than an unearned run in seven innings, Syndergaard walked nobody and allowed six hits, dominating Milwaukee to win his third straight start. He owns a 0.82 ERA, 27 strikeouts and one walk over that stretch.
"The growth that I've had in the span of one year has been night and day," said Syndergaard, one year and five days removed from his first career win, which also came against the Brewers. "I have the ability to go out there and have the confidence to throw any pitch at any given time."
Syndergaard has thrown more pitches 98MPH+ than these teams combined HOU LAD SF CIN TX TB SD CWS WSH ARI LAA OAK CHC TOR PHI MIL DET CLE MIN
Syndergaard's counterpart, Chase Anderson, pitched well enough over five innings for the Brewers, but allowed a Michael Conforto solo homer in the first and an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run single in the fourth. That was all Syndergaard needed to push the Mets into a first-place showdown with the Nationals, who took two of three from them this past week.
"We spent all last year doing the same thing," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We'd have a tough series and everybody would be writing us off, and we'd bounce back and play good."
The Brewers endured the opposite end of that momentum swing, dropping three straight in Flushing after a buoyant series win over the Cubs this past week.
"I think coming in, this is the series I expected," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I expected low-scoring, close games. They don't allow runs, they don't walk people and that's what happened. We pitched well enough to put ourselves in every game, but they pitched a little better."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Norse god of strikeouts: For the second straight outing, Syndergaard struck out double-digit batters and walked none. After giving up an unearned run in the first inning, the right-hander fanned eight of the next 11 batters he faced, including seven of eight from the second through fourth innings. Syndergaard's 8.44 K/BB ratio ranks second in the Majors behind only Clayton Kershaw, whose 22.00 rate has been the talk of baseball. More >
"I love being back there," Mets catcher Rene Rivera said. "He's unbelievable. He's got great stuff and more than that, he's composed out there. He never gets out of rhythm."
Brewers take advantage: Before Syndergaard kicked his domination into high gear, Jonathan Lucroy's RBI single actually gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead. After David Wright committed a fielding error on Scooter Gennett's ground ball in the first inning, Ryan Braun moved Gennett to second with another grounder. That brought up Lucroy, who laced a single up the middle for the Brewers' lone run.
As-two-bal: Perhaps the Mets' most consistent hitter over the first third of the season, Cabrera drilled a ball into right field with one out in the fourth inning, plating two runs to put the Mets ahead for good. The shortstop has at least one hit in each of the Mets' last five games.
"I feel at home," said Cabrera, who signed a two-year deal with the Mets this past winter. "That's real important for a player when you come from another team. You like to be part of a family."
Defensive miscue: Following a leadoff walk by Conforto in the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes blooped a ball into shallow left field. Braun, who returned to the Brewers' lineup after a four-game absence caused by a back injury, slid in an attempt to either catch it or stop the ball. He did neither and the ball squirted past him, allowing Cespedes to stretch the hit into a double while putting Conforto on third. Two batters later, Cabrera delivered his two-run single to right. More >
"I've got to do it for the roommate, I guess." -- Conforto, who has hit two of his last three home runs during Syndergaard's starts. The two share an apartment overlooking the East River in Manhattan.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Projected to land 425 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™, Conforto's home run was the Mets' second longest of the season. Both have come in the past eight days; Cespedes hit one eight feet further May 15 at Coors Field.
FAMILIA NAILS DOWN THE NINTH Jeurys Familia became the third Mets closer to open a season 15-for-15 in save opportunities when he locked down the ninth inning without issue. Now gunning for Armando Benitez's record of 24 consecutive save conversions to open the 2001 season, Familia is also second behind Arizona's Brad Ziegler (36-for-36) on MLB's active saves streak list.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers:Jimmy Nelson (4-3, 3.07 ERA) looks to make it three consecutive quality starts when the Brewers open up a three-game series against the Braves on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. CT at Turner Field. He'll square off against Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran as Milwaukee attempts to win its first series on the road this season.
Mets: After patching their wounds this weekend against the Brewers, the Mets will return to the hornet's nest Monday for a three-game series against the first-place Nationals. Right-hander Bartolo Colon will match up with Gio Gonzalez in the 7:05 p.m. ET opener at Nationals Park, after losing to Gonzalez last time out at Citi Field.