NEW YORK (AP) — Noah Syndergaard was blistering — this time in a good way.
Returning to the mound with an extra day of rest after a blister forced him from New York’s opener, Syndergaard overpowered the Miami Marlins for much of the night in the Mets’ 5-2 win Sunday that finished their opening homestand.
After the game, Mets captain David Wright put the team’s new star of the game crown on Syndergaard’s head.
“I think it suits me well,” Syndergaard said.
Syndergaard pitched six scoreless innings against Atlanta last Monday before the Mets removed him because of the blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
He walked none and struck out nine, including five of his first six batters, as the Marlins struggled to make hard contact early.
“He’s really good. He’s going to be really good. He’s going to stay really good,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Syndergaard (1-0) allowed two runs — one earned — and five hits in seven innings.
“You kind of get used to it,” said Jay Bruce, who backed Syndergaard with his second home run of the season . “But that’s what the best ones do. You kind of expect a certain level of execution.”
Syndergaard improved to 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 27 innings against Miami.
“He handcuffed our guys.” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Syndergaard doesn’t think the finger issue will linger.
“The blister’s fine,” he said. “I think it flared up in the last start just `cause I haven’t been really used to this colder environment.”
Edinson Volquez (0-1), pitching at Citi Field for the first time since starting the World Series clincher for Kansas City in 2015, allowed three runs in a first inning prolonged by catcher J.T. Realmuto’s error. Volquez later gave up solo homers to Bruce and Michael Conforto, who was making his first start this season.
Given a 3-0 lead in the first, Syndergaard yielded Dee Gordon’s two-run double in the third after left fielder Yoenis Cespedes misplayed Miguel Rojas’ fly ball for an error. Still trailing by a run, the Marlins put runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth when Syndergaard struck out Gordon on a high slider.
Rene Rivera, starting in place of regular Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud, threw out Gordon trying to steal third base in the third, then ended the inning by cutting down Realmuto trying to swipe second.
“I’m getting better. I’m still not where a want to be,” said Syndergaard, who allowed a major league-high 48 stolen bases last year.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was hitless in three at-bats against Syndergaard, dropping to 0 for 11 against him. Fernando Salas pitched a perfect eighth and Addison Reed got three straight outs for his first save, completing the five-hitter.
New York put runners at second and third with one out in the first when Bruce grounded to first base. Justin Bour threw home in plenty of time to hang up Asdrubal Cabrera, who stopped about two-thirds of the way down the line, but Realmuto took his eyes off the ball and it ricocheted off his glove for an error as Cabrera came home. Neil Walker blooped an RBI single into left , and Volquez forced in a run with a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Conforto.
Bruce homered to center in the fifth for a 4-2 lead and the crowd responded with “Bruuuce!” tributes, a turnaround from the boos during his late-season slump after the Mets acquired him from Cincinnati last summer.
“This guy told me in spring training — he said, `Listen, I am the guy you traded for,”‘ Collins said. “He said, `I had the worst month in my career in New York. I understand that, but I’m a run producer.”‘
Conforto hit a 430-foot drive in the sixth that landed in the seats in front of the Shea Bridge behind the bullpens in right-center.
“He’s aware that he’s the future. We’re aware of he’s the future,” Collins said. “We are certainly concerned that he’s not going to get the at-bats that you’d like him to have.”
SLUMPING AT THE TOP
New York leadoff hitter Jose Reyes was hitless in four at-bats and is off to a 1-for-23 (.043) start. “It’s tough to play in the cold weather,” he said. “It’s not because of the weather, because everybody here played before in the cold weather. No excuse.”
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom, who allowed two hits in six shutout innings against the Braves on Wednesday, starts at Philadelphia on Monday in the Mets’ road opener. RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-1) is slated to pitch for the Phillies.
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