NEW YORK – Minutes before the first pitch Thursday night, the enormous Citi Field video board showed Noah Syndergaard in the Mets dugout. He pulled a hooded sweatshirt over his head to reveal his No. 34. He adjusted his flowing blond hair under his hat. The fans began to cheer.
Eleven of his first 14 pitches zipped at 98 mph or faster. Syndergaard struck out the first three Phillies hitters. One of the game’s most dominant pitchers fired triple-digit fastballs on the corners against a sluggish lineup.
That is why a 6-4 Phillies win could qualify as their best, less than three weeks into the season. Tommy Joseph cracked a double on a 100-mph heater. Maikel Franco ripped a 99-mph fastball to end his hitless streak.
The Phillies capitalized on New York’s blunders. They did not render Syndergaard human – he still whiffed 10 and walked none in seven impressive innings – but they forced him to work.
“It’s a good confidence boost,” Joseph said.
The Phillies won even when Aaron Nola lasted just five innings. Joely Rodriguez emerged to throw perhaps the team’s two best innings of relief all season. He retired all six Mets he faced on 17 pitches, with three strikeouts.
They won with a new closer, too. Hector Neris notched the save with a perfect ninth. Joaquin Benoit, who had two chances as closer, returned to a setup role. Is this a closer-by-committee situation?
“I don’t want to name it anything,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “You …
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