The storyline for the Binghamton Mets Sunday was a four home run barrage, solid pitching and a 7-2 victory over the Erie Seawolves to improve their record to 46-28 and win their ninth series in a row. For New York Met fans the news was all about Noah Syndergaard.
Syndergaard, a 6’4” flame throwing, right-handed pitcher was one of the pieces in the R.A. Dickey trade. After starting his Met career in Advanced-A St. Lucie, he was promoted to Double-A Binghamton over the weekend and was on the hill for his AA debut. The 20-year-old pitcher left no lingering doubts about why he was summoned to Binghamton..
Syndergaard’s first AA pitch was a 96 mph fastball for a strike. His 82nd pitch to start the sixth inning was a 96 mph fastball that Erie second baseman Hernan Perez chopped to first base for an unassisted out. Oddly, Syndergaard ran into limited trouble during the odd numbered innings he pitched (1, 3, 5), and logged three-up-and-three-down innings during the even numbered frames (2, 4, 6).
The two times things got sticky for Syndergaard came when he faced the bottom of Erie’s batting order. The number eight hitter, rightfielder Luis Castillo led off the third, golfing a low curveball just inside the right field line and into the corner for a triple. Marcus Lemon took an 87 mph change-up the opposite way for a single plating Castillo. That’s right, Syndergaard’s change-up at times crossed the plate moving as high as 89 miles per hour.
When Jamie Johnson doubled scoring Lemon to tie the game at 2-2, Syndergaard faced his first AA crisis. The B-Met pitcher only added to his challenge failing to look the speedy Johnson back to second from the stretch, allowing Johnson to pilfer third without a throw. The leading run now danced off third with nobody out.
Pitching coach Glenn Abbott paid his new pupil a visit. Syndergaard got Eugenio Suarez to ground out third to first with the runner holding, then induced Perez to loft a short, soft fly to left field. Joe Bonfe fielded the fly and gunned a perfect strike to home with B-Met catcher Blake Forsythe applying the tag on Johnson for the inning ending out.
Syndergaard walked Castillo with one out in the fifth, his only free pass of the day, and Lemon followed with a single, but Syndergaard worked out of the jam stranding Castillo at third.
The B-Met righthander uses a smooth, free and easy delivery maximizing the ‘tall and fall’ pitching style typical of many professional pitchers in the modern game. Unlike Matt Harvey who takes the ball behind his body and upward in the pitching motion, Syndergaard drops his arm from behind as he prepares to deliver. The end result is similar – high heat thrown effortlessly.
The highest velocity Syndergaard reached was 98 mph, and the B-Met starter reached that mark eight different times. Two Syndergaard pitches to the final batter he faced in the sixth topped out at 98 mph, his final pitch reaching that lofty mark and fanning DH Tyler Collins.
6.0 Innings, 5 Hits, 2 Earned Runs, 1 Walk, 7 Strikeouts
89 Total Pitches: 65 Strikes (73%) – 24 Balls (27%)
Strike Breakdown: Called 16 (25%), Fouled 15 (23%), Missed 17 (28%), In-Play 17 (28%)
Total Pitches: 48; Strikes 34 (71%), Balls 14 (29%)
FW Fastballs: 35; Strikes 26 (74%), Balls 9 (26%)
FW Curveballs: 5; Strikes 3 (60%), Balls 2 (40%)
FW Sliders: 1; Strikes 0, Balls 1 (100%)
From The Stretch
Total Pitches 41; Strikes 31 (76%), Balls 10 (24%)
STR Fastbals: 21; Strikes 16 (76%), Balls 5 (24%)
STR Curveballs: 9; Strikes 5 (55%), Balls 4 (45%)
STR Changeups: 4; Strikes 3 (75%), Balls 1 (25%)
STR Sliders: 7; Strikes 6 (86%), Balls 1 (14%)
Syndergaard benefited from some impressive B-Met long ball fireworks. The B-Mets used a power packed lineup of righthanded bats against Erie southpaw Matt Crouse. Centerfielder Cesar Puello hit a monstrous homerun in his first at bat in the opening inning, a moon ball, high and deep, estimated to have traveled 470 feet.
Richard Lucas led off the second with the first of a pair of HR’s giving Binghamton a 2-0 lead. Lucas would also crack a double in his last at bat setting up the B-Met’s final run in the home eighth. And, after tying the previous night’s game with a two out, 3 run, ninth inning blast, Rhyne Hughes continued his long ball power display. After the B-Mets used small ball with singles by Danny Muno, Puello, and Allan Dykstra to score two runs and retake the lead in the third, Hughes connected sending a shot over the 400 foot fence slightly to the right of straight away centerfield to open the home fourth. The B-Met first baseman bounced a ball off the wall at the same spot for a double in the sixth and drove a pitch to the warning track with Dykstra tagging to score the B-Mets final run in the eighth.
Adam Kolarek and John Church turned in brilliant relief in support of Syndergaard. Kolarek, a lefty, used only 19 pitches to retire all six of the batters he faced, striking out his final two hitters. Church pitched a perfect ninth, striking out the side, with the two relief specialists combining to fan the last five batters they faced.
Photos by MMO contributor Gordon Donovan who was also at NYSEG Stadium. Follow him on Twitter at @gordonovan.