PHILADELPHIA — The current ace of the Mets is a 6-6, 240-pound slab of muscle with blond locks that fall to his shoulders. At first glance, he appears to have sprung from the imagination of an overzealous video game programmer, one that has severely overestimated the capabilities of the human body.
But these days, most of what Noah Syndergaard does on a pitcher’s mound is unfathomable. Consider Monday night, a 5-2 victory over the Phillies in which the pitcher exerted his will with sheer physical force.
Syndergaard’s first six fastballs lit up the radar gun at 100, 100, 101, 101, 101 and 101 mph. At least three times, he threw at least three sliders that registered at 94 mph.
His curveball — once dubbed by Terry Collins as the “hook from hell” — was responsible for three of his eight punchouts.
Only caution spared the Phillies from absorbing Syndergaard’s full wrath. He was pulled after 94 pitches, a concession to the marathon season that lies ahead for the 23-year-old phenom.
But before he departed, Syndergaard held the Phillies to just one run in seven innings, improving to 2-0 even though his ERA actually rose to 0.90.
Syndergaard’s 29 strikeouts through his first three starts of the season are just one shy of tying Pedro Martinez’s franchise mark, which was set in 2005.
The Phillies managed five hits off Syndergaard, though his fastball was so overpowering that none of them were to the pull side of the field.
For all of the fretting around their sluggish start to the season, the Mets (6-6) climbed back to the .500 mark by winning for the fourth time in their last five games.
While Syndergaard muzzled the Phillies, the Mets offense continued its emergence from hibernation, bashing four home runs.
Two came off the bat of David Wright. His 22 homers at Citizen’s Bank Park are the most ever hit by a visiting player.
In the eighth, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker went back-to-back off reliever David Hernandez. The solo shots provided some added cushion to what had been a tight pitcher’s duel.
Wright rested on Sunday specifically to ensure that he’d play all three games at Citizen’s Bank Park, long his home away from home. The move paid off immediately.
When Phillies righthander Jerad Eickhoff left a fastball over the heart of the plate in the first inning, Wright unleashed his signature power swing the other away. His first home run of the season landed about 10 rows deep in right-center, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
The Phillies tied it in the third when Odubel Herrera’s soft single to left knocked in Freddy Galvis, who had lined a one-out double the other way.
But the Mets reclaimed a 2-1 advantage with a two-out rally in the sixth. Yoenis Cespedes continued his hot streak, ripping a two-out triple to end a stretch of 14 straight plate appearances without a hit for the Mets.
Duda stepped to the plate just 2-for-15 on the Mets’ road trip. But when Eickhoff challenged him with a fastball, the slumping first baseman laced it the other away against a Phillies outfield that was playing him to pull.
Leftfielder David Lough made a long run and lunged to nearly make a miraculous catch. But the ball hit his glove before falling to the ground. Cespedes jogged home and the Mets inched ahead.
But Duda wasn’t done. In the eighth inning, Duda’s first home run of the season came to rest in the upper deck, but not before sailing over a picture of his own face displayed on the video board.
Wright provided the capper in the ninth, when he lined Elvis Araujo’s slider over the rightfield fence. The Met began the day homerless. He ended it with his 21st career multi-homer game, his first since June 20, 2013.