LOS ANGELES — In this enchanted bizarro world that the Mets have crafted for themselves, even the pitchers stage their own home run derbies. When Bartolo Colon hits a home run that threatens to break the Internet, Noah Syndergaard hits two.
So it goes for the rollicking, homer-happy Mets, 4-3 winners over the Dodgers on Wednesday night thanks to a pair of Synderbombs.
They came just four days after Colon’s first career homer. Indeed, that power has been contagious. The Mets have slammed a franchise-record 51 home runs in 33 games, and their pitchers already have three.
One more homer by one of their arms would set a new franchise record.
Syndergaard, 23 pitched, too, and he proved adept at that part of his game. He zinged triple-digit fastballs and gained strength as the night went along, allowing only solo shots to Corey Seager and Yasmani Grandal in eight innings.
But Syndergaard compensated, hitting as many home runs as he gave up.
“Is this a dream?” Syndergaard said, when asked of his thoughts following his second homer. “This is not real. I don’t think I ever hit two home runs when I played Little League. To hit two home runs in a big league ballgame especially with a pitcher like [Kenta] Maeda up there, it’s an awesome experience.”
If Colon’s shot was a victory for the the joyous, plumber-shaped everyman, then Syndergaard’s barrage was a reminder of the raw, physical talent that is befitting the nickname “Thor.”
The first hammer was swung in the third, when Dodgers righty Maeda grooved a first -pitch 89 mph fastball that tailed back over the heart of the plate. This was foolish. Syndergaard unleashed his powerful left-handed stroke, then watched his solo shot sail into the rightfield bleachers.
But it was Syndergaard’s second homer that altered the outcome for good, a three-run shot that erased a 2-1 deficit.
With two on, the pitcher initially squared to bunt. But when he failed to get the attempts down and the count ran to 2-2, the sign came back to swing away. Maeda hung a slider then clenched his teeth, forming an expression that did not require a translator. Syndergaard drove it out to center, then jogged around the bases, his blond hair bouncing beneath his helmet.
“When you’re supposed to bunt, you’d like to see the bunt down,” said Collins, who nearly let Syndergaard swing away from the start. “But if he doesn’t get the bunt down, you might as well hit a homer.”
It was the 66th multi-homer game by a pitcher since 1913, according to Baseball Reference, and just the second in Mets (21-12) history. Syndergaard joined Walt Terrell, who as a rookie hit a pair of two-run shots against the Cubs in 1983.
Not since Micah Owings of the Diamondbacks on Aug. 18 2007 had a big league pitcher homered twice in one game. Only once since 1913 has a pitcher homered three times in one game: Jim Tobin of the Boston Braves on May 14, 1942.
Syndergaard had two chances to join him.
In the sixth, Syndergaard ripped a pair of hard foul balls against Chris Hatcher — providing a bit of theater.
“He’s dangerous,” Collins said of the close calls.
Syndergaard struck out on a high heater. Later, in the eight, he struck out again. Still, Syndergaard finished with four RBIs and more importantly, the victory.
After 95 pitches, Collins got the hook for Syndergaard. After the game, Collins revealed that the pitcher had his elbow examined. Tests came back clear, but the thought lingered with the manager.
Closer Jeurys Familia allowed a run in the ninth though he managed to record his 11th save.
As for the home run derby, it’s now Colon’s turn. The veteran pitches — and bats — in Thursday’s series finale. He faces lefty Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers ace who is no stranger to giving up homers to opposing pitchers. He has twice been victimized by the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner.
A reporter asked Collins, what are Colon’s chances?
“About as good as yours,” he said, though these Mets don’t seem to pay much attention to odds.