Noah Syndergaard was throwing hard. Triple-digits hard.
But the Yankees hit two of them back just as hard. And far. Very far.
Syndergaard gave up a three-run homer to Carlos Beltran on a 100-mile per hour fastball in the first inning Saturday and a two-run shot to Brian McCann on a 97-mph heater in the sixth.
In between, Syndergaard was nearly perfect. But the home runs were enough for the Yankees to even the Subway Series at a game apiece with a 5-0 victory over the Mets before 43,630 at Citi Field.
"He's a guy that throws hard," Beltran said. "He has a great arm. Young guy, being able to throw like that. It's going to be fun for the Mets. It already is."
It wasn't yesterday.
"You go back and look at the tape at all, he made two bad pitches," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Made the pitch to Beltran, tried to go up and in, left it on the plate. Tried to go down and away to McCann, again left it on the plate . . . Otherwise, he was outstanding."
Michael Pineda, responding to a challenge from manager Joe Girardi to step it up after two subpar outings, threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings for the win. The Yankees nabbed a badly-needed victory with the help of superb relief pitching (and Girardi's extremely itchy but effective bullpen trigger finger).
Girardi used six relievers (and four second basemen in the last five innings). Three times, Girardi replaced a pitcher after a strikeout. Each time it worked as the next pitcher kept the shutout intact. Three different Yankees relievers struck out seven in a row from the sixth through eighth innings.
Aggressive? Super aggressive. Girardi was unapologetic about it.
"We need to win the game," said Girardi, perhaps weary about being interrogated about his bullpen use after a shutout win. "That's the bottom line for me. We need to win the game."
Beltran gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead three batters into the glorious 80-degree afternoon with a laser off the second deck in right on an 0-and-2 pitch. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner had opened the game with back-to-back singles. It was Beltran's 16th home run.
"It's a big hit," Girardi said. "Pineda could go to work. We know they have a lot of guys on their ballclub that can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We know in that situation that one mistake is not going to beat you. I think it was big to score early."
From there, Syndergaard (8-7) retired 12 in a row and 16 of 17 before Beltran singled with one out in the sixth. McCann followed with his 26th home run, a long shot on a 3-and-1 pitch into the bullpen area in right-center for a 5-0 Yankees lead.
Syndergaard allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings. He walked none and struck out eight.
Pineda (11-8) breezed until the sixth, when the first two Mets singled and Girardi pulled him after a strikeout of the suddenly slumping Yoenis Cespedes (0-for-4, hitless in last 17 at-bats). Pineda had thrown 86 pitches.
"I was a little surprised, yes," a smiling Pineda said. The righthander allowed four hits -- all singles -- and walked one. He struck out four.
Justin Wilson walked Daniel Murphy to load the bases before striking out David Wright and pinch hitter Juan Uribe to end the threat.
"I walked the first guy," Wilson said. "That's part of the game. Makes the game fun."
Wilson struck out the first two batters of the seventh to give him four in a row. Girardi took out Wilson and brought in Caleb Cotham, who continued the pattern by striking out Kevin Plawecki.
Dellin Betances fanned two in a 1-2-3 eighth and James Pazos retired the only batter he faced in the ninth. Chris Martin struck out Wright, but allowed a pair of two-out infield singles. Girardi trudged out of the dugout again to boos and called on closer Andrew Miller, who got pinch hitter Travis d'Arnaud to ground into a forceout to third to end it.
A truncated-by-design Matt Harvey will oppose CC Sabathia in Sunday night's finale. The Yankees lead the season series, 3-2.