NEW YORK — Toronto did not go down without a fight; in the end, it took an ex-Blue Jay and extra innings to halt the club’s run of dominance. Former Blue Jays prospect Noah Syndergaard pitched six strong innings Monday night at Citi Field and Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off single in the 11th, leading the Mets to a 4-3 victory that snapped Toronto’s franchise-record winning streak at 11.
“They are huge wins, especially when you fall behind like we did and have to come back,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “It builds confidence in the clubhouse that it can be done. We have young players that are going through it for the first time. There is no way to teach it. So it’s real important to win some of these games.”
Half an inning after the Jays took a 3-2 lead on Dioner Navarro’s sacrifice fly, Ruben Tejadadrew a one-out walk to spark the winning rally against Toronto closer Brett Cecil. AfterMichael Cuddyer hit into a fielder’s choice, with Tejada hanging between first and second long enough to extend both the play and the inning, Lucas Duda followed with a pop fly to left field. But the Jays were employing a no-doubles defence and shading Duda to pull, allowing the ball to find grass before Ezequiel Carrera could arrive at the spot. Cuddyer hustled around from first to score the tying run.
The next batter, Flores, grounded a single up the middle to score Duda from second and officially end Toronto’s streak.
“It’s a great feeling,” Flores said. “When you win a game like this, it’s because you did everything right.”
After falling into a quick hole in the first inning, serving up one of Jose Bautista Jersey ‘s two homers and allowing three baserunners in total, Syndergaard grew all but unhittable. He struck out a career-high 11, retiring the final 10 batters he faced in a row and 16 of the last 17. Though the Mets did not score off Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle Jersey until the sixth, back-to-back RBI doubles from Juan Lagares and Tejada temporarily put Syndergaard in line for his third career victory.
It was not until five innings later that the Mets ended Toronto’s winning streak at 11, tied with their own for the longest in the Majors season. The Jays hit .312 over the life of the streak, including .473 with runners in scoring position to average eight runs per game.
“It was a heck of a streak,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We had it right there for the taking. The walk [to Tejada] hurts, but the walk hurt them too to give us a chance to take the lead. That always kills you in late ballgames. Perfect placement, but it was a good battle. Buehrle was great, Syndergaard was great and look at Bautista.”
The Blue Jays carried a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 11th inning but Cecil wasn’t able to close things out. He issued a one-out walk to Tejada and two batters later, Duda hit a bloop fly ball to left field. Toronto was playing a no-doubles defence, also shading Duda to pull, and the normally catchable ball dropped in for a hit. Running on the pitch, Cuddyer scored all the way from first. Duda later scored the winning run on Flores’ walk-off single, snapping a streak of 12 scoreless innings by the Blue Jays’ bullpen.
Toronto didn’t have its typical high-powered offence going on Monday night but the club almost found a way to manufacture enough runs to steal a win away from the Mets. Navarro put the Blue Jays in front by one with a sacrifice fly during the top of the 11th inning with runners on first and third. The three runs marked the lowest output by the Blue Jays since the first game of a doubleheader against the Nationals on June 2. During the first 11 games of the winning streak, Toronto averaged eight runs per game.
The Blue Jays entered the ninth inning trailing by a run, but all it took was one swing of the bat from Bautista to change that. Bautista sent the first pitch he saw from Mets closer Jeurys Familia over the wall in left field for his 13th home run of the season, and Familia’s second blown save in 21 chances. Toronto’s veteran slugger also homered in the first inning on a 98 mph fastball from Syndergaard, a ball that was projected to travel 449 feet according to Statcast™. It was Bautista’s second multi-homer game of the season and his first since June 7 against the Astros.
“I know he’s aggressive with his fastball, especially on the inside part of the plate,” Bautista said of Familia. “I placed my bet on fastball, he threw it and I hit it. That’s the kind of attitude you have to have sometimes when it’s close games and they have their closer on the mound, you can’t really give them a chance to get comfortable and get ahead in the count because then you’re fighting an uphill battle the rest of the at-bat.”
Taking advantage: After Kevin Plawecki reached on a Jose Reyes Jersey throwing error to open the bottom of the sixth, Syndergaard bunted him into scoring position and the Mets followed with two doubles: one from Lagares to tie the game, and one from Tejada to give them their first lead. The rally put Syndergaard in line for his third win in seven career starts before Bautista’s ninth-inning homer stuck him with a no-decision.
Eleven for Noah: Shaky in the first inning, Syndergaard settled down to retire the final 10 batters he faced, striking out four in a row at one point en route to a career-high 11. In his final inning, Syndergaard set down the heart of Toronto’s lineup — Josh Donaldson Jersey, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion Jersey — in order, still hitting 98 mph well after throwing his 100th pitch.