NEW YORK – Noah Syndergaard has been on track at the right time for the Mets, and that continued into Thursday night's 2-0 win over the Indians at Citi Field. Syndergaard entered with a 1.65 ERA in his previous four starts. With a scoreless six-inning effort – cut
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Syndergaard's season ERA is now at a season-low 3.71. A month ago, it was above 4.25, and in May, it spent time higher than 5.00.
Syndergaard has strung together eight straight starts of at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last five outings.
"You look good to him, but tonight was really good," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “He had a great changeup – he was really good in the bullpen. He leaned on it with all those switch-hitters who were clearly hitting left-handed against him. And he put up zeros. When you have to stop the game when it's going so good, it's like, 'Oh, no.' "
This stretch from Syndergaard has come since the All-Star break while the Mets have propelled themselves into the thick of the National League Wild Card race, keeping pace again on Thursday. The Mets are an MLB-best 27-10 since the break and sit 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot.
In the midst of a homestand against contending teams, the victory ended with a sweep of the Indians and extended the Mets' win streak to five games. Up next, they will face the NL East-leading Braves this weekend.
"When we play baseball the way we can, we can compete with anyone, and we've been doing that lately," Callaway said.
Syndergaard threw 16 changeups, allowing just one hit on the pitch while using it as an outfield four times – including for Francisco Lindor and Greg Allen's strikeouts.
Just how well was Syndergaard throwing? Well, he had a perfect game going into the sixth inning before allowing a single to Tyler Naquin with one out – the lone hit that Syndergaard allowed on that changeup.
"Just trying to see him up," Naquin said of his approach at that at-bat. “I hit a changeup down. You got to be on time with his heater, his best pitch… a 97-99 mph two-seam. Being able to adjust to the offspeed, if not on time with the heater … but making good pitches. He's a good pitcher. "
Was Callaway aware of the perfect game while it was still in progress?
"You think about that," he said. “You don't say it, but you definitely think about it. You know, where the pitch count was, and how he was going and the fact that his changeup was so good … it crept in. But still a lot of game left. But he threw a heck of a game. "
"I was just really able to throw in a lot of convention today," Syndergaard said.
Entering Thursday, Syndergaard had a 4.50 ERA in 78 innings with Ramos behind the plate. But Ramos has now caught two of Syndergaard's past three starts – along with his Aug. 10 start vs. the Nationals at Citi Field, where he went seven innings and allowed two runs – indicating that perhaps the ERA is skewed by early-season struggles.
Sarah Langs is a reporter / editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.