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Lansing's Syndergaard unhittable05/17/2012 11:07 PM ET
By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com
Noah Syndergaard is becoming a creature of habit, even down to where he gets his pregame food from and who he eats it with
And as long as he keeps pitching within a stone's throw of a Mexican restaurant, things will be just fine.
MLB.com's No. 89 prospect did not allow a hit over four shutout innings in the Class A Lansing Lugnuts' 5-1 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Thursday. He could not have drawn up his day any better.
He had his Chipotle lunch -- always a go-to on days he pitches -- and got to the ballpark in plenty of time to warm up. After completing his four innings of work, he then threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen and wrapped up his postgame workout with a conditioning program.
"I'm starting to get pretty acclimated to it," Syndergaard said. "I try to go through the same routine. I start my day off with Chipotle, it's like a pregame ritual with [reliever Anthony] DeSclafani. Then I get to the stadium around 5 p.m. and get my leg stretches and arm stretches in, then I'm ready to go.
"Tonight, I went down to the bullpen after I came out and worked on my curveball. It depends on my pitch count. Then I did some shoulder maintenance and rotator cuff stuff."
The routine saw Syndergaard put together his best start of the year.
Toronto's top pitching prospect did not allow a hit over four near-perfect innings. He walked one batter and struck out three in lowering his ERA to 1.88.
The first-round Draft pick retired the side in order in the first inning, and he faced the minimum in the second after catcher Carlos Perez threw out Travis Whitmore -- who reached on Syndergaard's error covering first base -- trying to steal second.
The 19-year-old then induced three ground-ball outs in the third frame before working around a one-out walk to Tyler Stubblefield in the fourth.
"I would say [it went] very well. I was locating my fastball and I was able to locate my changeup," he said. "My curveball was not where I wanted it, but it's still a work in progress.
"I was throwing my fastball to both sides of the plate, and when they started cheating on it, I would slow their bats down and go to the changeup."
The outing was Syndergaard's ninth appearance and fifth start of the year. The Blue Jays have been alternating between using the Texas native in the rotation and out of the bullpen over the first six weeks of the season.
He has not pitched more than four innings in any game this year, and Thursday's outing marked the first time he started a game and was allowed to go more than three innings.
"I felt great. I felt like I could have gone another four innings, but I'm OK where I'm at right now because of the bigger picture," he explained.
In 28 2/3 innings, Syndergaard (3-0) has struck out 38 batters and walked 11.
Selected 38th overall in the 2010 Draft out of Legacy High School in Mansfield, Texas, the 6-foot-5 farmhand pitched in 18 games across four levels over the past two seasons.
He made five starts for the Blue Jays' Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2010, and he went a combined 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA between short-season Bluefield, Vancouver and Lansing a year ago.
On Thursday, DeSclafani (3-1) struck out the first six batters he faced in relief of Syndergaard. He allowed a run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in his third inning of work, and bounced back with two more punchouts in the eighth for a career-high eight.
Brandon Berl then allowed a hit and two walks in the ninth frame, but escaped unharmed to seal the victory.
First baseman K.C. Hobson slugged a solo homer -- his third longball of the year -- in the victory, while second baseman Jonathon Berti reached base four times and scored once.
Fort Wayne's Justin Hancock (0-3) allowed four runs on four hits and four walks over two innings in the losing cause.