In order to keep breathing, the New York Mets needed Noah Syndergaard.

In about the worst possible way imaginable before the very real threat of elimination would set in, the Mets needed Noah Syndergaard.

So, the 23-year-old fireballer with all of 150 major league innings to his name and a baby face peeking from his flowing hair gave the guys from Queens what they needed—a pitching performance good enough to win, regardless of what it looked like and no matter what route he took to the eventual destination.

In the face of virtual elimination, with his Mets down two games to none in the best-of-seven World Series, Syndergaard threw six innings, peppered with seven hits and a couple of walks. He allowed three runs—one on a passed ball—struck out six and got nearly as many swings-and-misses in his time (16) as there have been from all other starting pitchers combined in these three games (19). He also retired 13 of the last 16 batters he faced before he was done.

When the game ended, the Mets repaid their pitcher with gobs of run support, and they all left Citi Field with a 9-3 victory Friday night, pulling a little closer in this championship series against the Kansas City Royals, who still hold a 2-1 series advantage.

“He delivered,” Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters in his postgame press conference. “He came through exactly how we expected him to.”

Syndergaard did not start out dropping the hammer of Thor on everyone who stepped into the box, though. Early on, there was a twinge of panic. 

After his first pitch flew up and in to Royals leadoff man Alcides Escobar—which many of the Royals did not approve of, though they were met with defiance—Syndergaard gave up a double and single to Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain, respectively, and Zobrist scored on a fielder’s choice for a quick 1-0 lead.

After Mets captain David Wright homered to give the Mets the lead in the bottom of the first, Syndergaard coughed up another run by allowing three consecutive singles and a third score on a passed ball. His pitches were hard, but it did not stop the Royals from getting enough wood on them to make things seem like Syndergaard would not be long for Game 3, and that the Mets would have to cover too many innings with their bullpen in the first game of three in a row at home.

Before Syndergaard got out of that two-run second inning, Collins had Jon Niese warming in the bullpen, because even he knew the leash had to be short at the risk of finding his club one win away from watching the Royals celebrate on New York’s own diamond. 

“We swung the bat really good against him in the first two innings,” Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters in his postgame press conference. “If you’re going to get a really good pitcher, you better get him early. And we put some runs on the board against him early, but he settled in. He settled down and started throwing his secondary stuff for strikes and spotting his fastball better.”

Once that happened, Syndergaard was masterful. He struck out five in his next four innings, and the next baserunner did not come until there were two outs in the sixth inning. A single and a couple of walks loaded the bases for Kansas City, but on his 104th pitch, a slider, Syndergaard got Alex Rios to ground out to strand all three runners.

Syndergaard was not dominant Friday night, except for a stretch of 12 consecutive hitters from the end of the second through two outs in the sixth. In fact, he had the same bottom-line results as Game 1 starter Matt Harvey, though one start was praised, while the other was tamped down.

Why? Because the Mets scored for Thor the way they could not for the Dark Knight. In Game 1, the Mets scored three runs while Harvey was in the game, and he left with it tied. In Game 3, Syndergaard got all nine runs and left (officially) with a six-run lead.

It does not matter how the Mets won, or who is celebrated in victory. Not now. Not when the Game 3 stakes were either get back into the series or have all hope sucked from your team. In that kind of circumstance, all that matters is the final score. And with that in play, Syndergaard did exactly what he had to for the Mets to get the win.

Now, they are in decent shape. They still trail by a game, but they are home with Steven Matz (2.58 ERA in eight major league starts, including the postseason) pitching against Kansas City’s Chris Young, who had a 4.52 FIP in 123.1 innings this season. Win that game, and things go from seemingly impossible for the Mets to somewhat favorable with co-aces Harvey and Jacob deGrom throwing the next two.

But before anyone could consider those possibilities, the Mets needed to keep breathing. And Noah Syndergaard, the young man with the superhero nickname, allowed them to do so.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired first-hand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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