By Paul DiSclafani:
The wait is finally over. With almost a quarter of the 2016 baseball season gone, the Mets and Nationals didn’t get to face off against each other until tonight. They are going to play five more times over the next eight games and if tonight is any indication, we are in for some great baseball.
Ace’s Noah Syndergaard and Max Scherzer provided the backdrop for the first meeting of the year as the Mets (22-16) shutout the Nationals (23-16), 2-0 at Citi Field. Syndergaard was brilliant, tossing seven shutout innings and striking out 10. Scherzer, coming off a record-tying 20 strikeout performance in his last outing, coughed up two solo home runs.
Curtis Granderson launched Scherzer’s first pitch of the game off the right field stands, for his seventh home run, giving the Mets a quick 1-0 lead. Michael Conforto also took Scherzer deep in the third inning for his sixth home run of the year. The rest was left to the one they call “Thor”.
Syndergaard (W, 4-2) scattered five hits and stayed out of trouble all night, lowering his ERA to 2.19. He set the tone early, getting a strikeout and two weak ground balls in the first inning, while hitting 100 on the radar gun a number of times. The only real threat from the Nats came in the second inning when Ryan Zimmerman doubled with one out and moved to third on a single by Anthony Rendon. But Syndergaard got Wilson Ramos to hit into a nifty 4-6-3 DP to end the threat.
The return of folk hero Daniel Murphy allowed the crowd to pay tribute to him in his first at bat, giving him a standing ovation, recognizing his accomplishments in his seven years with the Mets. The Mets also paid tribute to Murphy with a video montage that was well received and allowed Murphy to tip hit hat to the cheering fans. Murphy was offered only a qualifying offer from the Mets in the off season and instead opted for a three-year deal with the Nationals. Murphy came into the game hitting .400 and collected one of the five hits Syndergaard allowed, going 1-3 in his return.
Both teams came into the series staggering, with the Mets losing four straight and finishing a brutal 11-game road trip at 4-7. Washington got swept by the Cubs in four games at Wrigley Field before finishing a 3-3 home stand by losing the final two games against the Marlins.
Scherzer (L, 4-3), coming off that magnificent 20 strikeout performance against the Tigers added 10 more tonight. He and Syndergaard became the first opposing pitchers to strike out 10 plus hitters in the same game this season. Scherzer held the Mets to just three hits in his 6+ innings, but two of them were home runs. He has already given up 13 home runs in just 58 innings.
With a 2-0 lead, the Mets bullpen was lights out, getting the final six outs in order as Jeurys Famila pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for save number 13.
Bartolo Colon (3-2, 3.53) gets the start tomorrow night against Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.93). Mets and Matt Harvey (3-5) will face Steven Strasberg (6-0) in the finale on Thursday.
POSITIVES: Syndergaard got his first major league win on this date in 2015 … This was the seventh time in 32 starts that Syndergaard struck out at least 10 batters … Matt Reynolds made his major league debut, starting at third base for David Wright, going 0-3 … Good news on Steven Matz elbow – no issues … Granderson was 2-2 and two walks, getting a little revenge on Scherzer. Granderson made the last out of Scherzer’s no-hitter against the Mets last year … Addison Reed struck out two in the eighth inning and threw only 8 pitches.
NEGATIVES: Lucas Duda (back) got an injection on Monday and did not play. He will most likely not play against the lefty Gonzalez on Wednesday either …