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Syndergaard produces best Triple-A start

Mets top prospect strikes out seven over career-high seven innings
May 1, 2014

Noah Syndergaard had the kind of start on Wednesday night that will feed the dreams of Mets fans. He hopes to make those dreams a reality, sooner rather than later.

The Mets' top-ranked prospect gave up an unearned run on four hits and struck out seven over a season-high seven innings as Triple-A Las Vegas shut down Reno, 6-1, at Cashman Field.

Syndergaard (4-2) got himself in trouble in the third inning, allowing a leadoff single to Trent Oeltjen and committing a throwing error on opposing pitcher Lucas Harrell's ground ball to put runners at the corners with one out. The 21-year-old right-hander retired Didi Gregorius on a run-scoring groundout and fanned Alfredo Marte to limit the damage.

"It was one of those nights where I had everything working for me," Syndergaard said. "My command was really good, I was able to command my fastball to both sides of the plate. My catcher, Juan Centeno, called a great game; we were on the same page the whole night."'s No. 10 overall prospect struck out the side in the fifth, worked around a two-out single in the sixth and fanned two more around a pair of walks in the seventh.

"I didn't use my curveball until the fourth inning," he said. "The first couple of innings, I was fastball-changeup. I was able to get them off my fastball when I needed to. You just want to throw your best stuff the first time through the order."

Syndergaard's first month in the Pacific Coast League has been marked by ups and downs. After earning the win in his debut on April 5, he entered Wednesday's game with a 5.04 ERA and .296 batting average against.

Syndergaard had not gone more than five innings since his Triple-A debut, but Wednesday's gem matched the longest of his career. And the seven strikeouts were a season high as he knocked his ERA down to 3.94.

"This was one of the best starts I've had my entire career," Syndergaard said. "I was able to repeat my delivery. Sometimes I have a bit of a problem driving on my heels and causing the ball to cut a little bit. I was down in the zone more because I was using my legs more and getting good extension."

Knowing that he's a phone call away from the big leagues, the 2010 first-round Draft pick recognizes that he has to repeat efforts like the one he produced against the D-backs' top affiliate.

"I just gotta not get complacent and become satisfied with that outing," he said. "You always want to get better each and every time out. I think I made some pretty good strides, but things can always get better.

"The ultimate goal is not to pitch in Triple-A, it's to pitch in the big leagues. Just gotta continue to [improve] from what happened tonight. I feel like the way I pitched tonight can play at the big league level."

Syndergaard exited a 1-1 deadlock, but Zach Lutz sparked a five-run outburst in the bottom of the seventh with a run-scoring single. Pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores -- New York's No. 4 prospect -- and Eric Campbell also delivered RBI singles.

Zack Thornton struck out three and gave up a pair of hits over the final two innings for the 51s, while rehabbing Mets outfielder Juan Lagares went 2-for-4. Las Vegas ended the opening month of the season with a PCL-best 19-8 record.

Reliever Eury De La Rosa (0-1) failed to retire a batter and was charged with five runs -- three earned -- on two hits and two walks. Starter Lucas Harrell gave up a run on four hits while fanning seven over four innings in his Aces debut.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.