NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Like many people in the tri-state area, New York Mets players had a lengthy to-do list on a pleasant early spring Sunday.
Noah Syndergaard needed to spare an overworked bullpen and put himself in position to earn his first win of the season. Jay Bruce needed to finish off a good first week. Michael Conforto needed to make a good first impression in his first start of 2017.
Syndergaard, Bruce, and Conforto checked off their to-do lists in impressive fashion Sunday night, when Syndergaard threw seven strong innings and Bruce and Conforto each hit long homers in the Mets’ 5-2 win over the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.
“It was a solid game all-around,” Conforto said. “Noah threw well, guys came up big with the bats.”
Syndergaard (1-0) largely spared a bullpen that threw 20 1/3 innings over the first five games by allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and no walks. He struck out nine.
“I understood kind of the pressure that was going to come from this game, but I didn’t let that get to me,” Syndergaard said. “Just went out there and made the game simple. Had fun out there, just went about my business.”
The Mets staked Syndergaard to a 3-0 lead in the first inning when Asdrubal Cabrera scored on an error by catcher J.T. Realmuto, Neil Walker laced a RBI single and Conforto drew a bases-loaded walk.
The Marlins mounted their most serious threat against Syndergaard in the third when the long-haired right-hander got some help from catcher Rene Rivera.
Derek Dietrich led off the inning with a double and went to third when Yoenis Cespedes dropped Miguel Rojas’ sinking liner for a two-base error. Both runners scored one out later when Dee Gordon doubled down the third-base line, but Rivera threw out Gordon trying to steal third and then threw out Realmuto trying to steal second after he reached on an infield single.
Rivera, who has caught each of Syndergaard’s last 18 starts, including the 2016 National League wild-card game, has thrown out 20 of 64 base-stealers since joining the Mets last season.
“Every time I throw somebody out, I’m pumped,” Rivera said. “That’s one thing that is a strong part of my game and I take pride in it. I work hard to be consistent with it.”
The Mets added insurance on the long homers by Bruce, who hit a blast to straightaway center in the fifth, and Conforto, whose shot landed above the bullpens in right-center in the sixth.
Bruce hit just .219 with eight homers and a .294 on-base percentage in 50 games for the Mets last season following his acquisition from the Cincinnati Reds last Aug. 1, but he ended the opening week with a team-high two homers, three extra-base hits, and five walks.
“It’s always better to play well, as opposed to not playing well,” Bruce said with a chuckle. “I think individually I feel good about my start. Look to build off of it.”
Conforto, the team’s fourth outfielder and the youngest position player on the Mets’ roster, may have to wait a few days to build off his homer. Manager Terry Collins said he expected starting center fielder Curtis Granderson to return to the lineup Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“You’ve just got to applaud Michael Conforto,” Collins said. “Those kind of guys are hungry, and Michael wants to stay in there. He wants to be in this lineup. I just had an idea that tonight he was going to do something. And that was a big hit for him.”
Fernando Salas and Addison Reed (first save) each threw a perfect inning as the Mets avoided being swept in the three-game series.
Dietrich had two hits for the Marlins.
“Dee ends up with the big hit to get us to 3-2 and then we just didn’t really mount anything after that,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Right-hander Edinson Volquez (0-1) took the loss after giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and one walk while striking out seven over six innings.
The Marlins saw their three-game winning streak end.
“You just want to get out of the blocks, really — that first week, 10 days, two weeks, and not be 1-12 or something,” Mattingly said. “Hopefully we find rhythm and start winning two out of three all the time.”
By The Sports Xchange