New York Mets

Noah Syndergaard loses his hammer just when Mets need him most

Noah Syndergaard suffers the worst start of his career against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday as the Mets are in danger of losing their fifth straight game

The New York Mets, locked in a four-game losing streak, were counting on one of their young aces to turn things around on Wednesday. Instead, Noah Syndergaard gave them the worst start of his five-year career.

Syndergaard, 26, gave up 10 runs—nine of them earned—in just three innings against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field, leaving the game with the Mets, in desperate need of a win, trailing the team they are chasing in the Wild Card race 10-1.

The night started innocently enough for Syndergaard. After he struck out Jason Heyward to begin the game, Syndergaard allowed Nicholas Castellanos and Kris Bryant to reach base with one out in the top of the first inning. Javier Baez then hit a ground ball to Mets shortstop Amed Rosario for what should have been an inning-ended double play. Rosario instead committed an error, allowing Castellanos to score and Bryant to go to third base.

The next batter, Kyle Schwarber, doubled down the right-field line to score Bryant. After Addison Russell drove in both Baez and Schwarber with a single, Ian Happ homered to left-center field on a 1-1 changeup to make it 6-0 for the Cubs.

Syndergaard’s troubles, though, were just beginning. In the second inning, the left-handed batting Schwarber hit a 95 m.p.h fastball to the opposite field for a two-run home run, his team-leading 31st of the season. Then in the third inning, Castellanos took a hanging slider from Syndergaard to right-center for another two-run home run, his ninth since joining the Cubs at the July 31 trade deadline.

Syndergaard was relieved by Paul Sewald to start the fourth, his night coming to an end after three innings giving up nine hits and 10 runs while striking out five. His ERA for the year jumped up from 3.71 to 4.14. It’s the first time he’s allowed more than six earned runs in a start since June 2, 2015, against the San Diego Padres in what was the fifth game of his career. He’s the first Mets pitcher to give up 10 runs in a game since Johan Santana in 2010, and the first to do so at home in more than 20 years.

His rough start on Wednesday seemingly came out of nowhere. In eight starts since the All-Star break, Syndergaard ranked fourth among all Major League starters with a 1.87 ERA. He had given up just one home run over his last 54.1 innings. The three home runs he surrendered to the Cubs matched his total from his last nine starts combined.

It also comes at the worst possible time for the Mets. Losers of four straight games coming into play on Wednesday, the Mets (67-64) have fallen three games behind the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot. Not only are they struggling, they’re losing to the teams they need to beat. They were swept by the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves on the weekend and are now in danger of dropping their second straight to Chicago.

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Their schedule doesn’t get any easier after this series, either. When the three-game series with Chicago ends on Thursday, the Mets next nine games are against the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies, two division rivals that are also chasing a Wild Card spot.

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