NEW YORK — Mets manager Terry Collins suggested Saturday that Noah Syndergaard‘s biggest transgression in throwing up and in to Alcides Escobar to begin Game 3 of the World Series might have been admitting his motivation after the game.
Syndergaard did not disguise his intention after the Mets’ 9-3 win against the Kansas City Royals on Friday. He indicated he purposely wanted to make Escobar and the Royals less comfortable in the batter’s box. He added that if Kansas City players had a problem with the game-opening 97 mph fastball to the backstop, he was standing on the mound and they should have charged it.
The Royals were incensed by the pitch, chirping at Syndergaard throughout his outing, then further sounding off postgame.
“He’s 23,” Collins said, suggesting Syndergaard’s youth might have contributed to his postgame candor. “He got caught up in the moment, I guess.
“He felt he had to say something, I guess. You can say, ‘Look, I tried to get the ball in on him. It got away from me.’ He said what he said.”
Royals manager Ned Yost, reacting to Syndergaard’s postgame comments, said: “I didn’t expect him to throw a strike, but I didn’t expect him to throw it under his chin, either. But we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves, too.”
Yost added that Syndergaard was not as candid when Royals catcher Salvador Perez asked him about the pitch when Syndergaard stepped to the plate to bat.
“He just said he wasn’t trying to throw up and under his chin — that he didn’t mean to do it,” Yost said.
Pedro Martinez, known for being unapologetic about throwing high-and-tight pitches during his Hall of Fame career, went to Twitter to applaud Syndergaard.
“It’s refreshing to see a current pitcher that answered like an old timer! Thoooorrrrrrrrrrr!!!!” Martinez tweeted, using Syndergaard’s nickname, Thor.
Despite his 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame, Syndergaard often is quiet in the clubhouse. So baseball got a rare view of his competitiveness on Friday, rotation-mate Matt Harvey suggested.
“Obviously, everybody kind of saw a different side of him,” Harvey said. “Usually, he’s a little more reserved and calm. I think it’s a lot the situation, too. I think he’s pretty fired up. He was fired up about the win last night. He went out there and did his job, and we’re all proud of him for that. Being at home, he got a lot of adrenaline and probably carried that into his press conference after. He does like to work out and spend a lot of time in the workout room. His comments are, I think for us, kind of taken with a grain of salt. But we’re obviously happy about what he did.”
Collins insisted that he had no idea Syndergaard’s first pitch was scripted to whiz past Escobar and to the backstop. Collins noted that players are far more sensitive to inside pitching than in the past.
“Any time there’s a pitch up around somebody’s head, everybody gets excited,” Collins said. “Our guys do the same thing. It’s all about emotions. It’s all about defending a teammate. Everything’s involved. I’m not surprised that they were upset by it.
“I was as surprised as anybody that was something he planned on doing. It’s over. We’ve got a long way to go. The one thing you try to make sure you don’t do is give them the reason to want to stomp on your neck. I just think he did what he thought he had to do.
“Pitching inside is a lost art anymore. It’s a lot living away. It’s about living down and away, down and away. Any time you come inside, some guys take offense to it. I saw the pitch. As it always is, it’s never as close as they make it look.”
Collins said it’s not like the pitch disrupted the Royals at the plate. They produced six hits against Syndergaard in the first two innings before he settled down.
“They obviously were on a little bit of a mission,” Collins said.
Said Harvey: “The last thing you want in a series like this is to let guys get super comfortable. I think Noah obviously did a good job of keeping them off-balance and finding his own personal ways of changing that.”