(AP) — Noah Syndergaard was still wearing a plastic bib from a local seafood chain when he spoke to reporters after shutting down the Red Sox in his first-ever appearance at Fenway Park.
For the Mets, it was a feast all around.
Syndergaard pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and New York hit four homers on Friday night to cool off the Red Sox 8-0 and snap Boston’s four-game winning streak. The Mets right-hander struck out six and walked three to lead the Mets to their fourth straight victory and sixth win in their last seven games.
“That was just a fun ballgame on all fronts,” Syndergaard (12-3) said. “The offense really came alive. The defense made some great plays behind me.”
The Red Sox, who lead the majors with 101 victories, had their lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East reduced to 9½ games. The only team in baseball to have already secured a playoff berth, Boston’s magic number to clinch its third straight division title remained at six.
The Mets (69-78) are technically still alive in the NL East but could be eliminated as early as this weekend despite winning 25 of their last 40 games. A lot of the credit for the goes to Syndergaard, who has won 10 of his last 12 decisions, and Cy Young contender Jacob deGrom, who hasn’t allowed more than three runs in 26 straight starts.
“You go through ups and downs, but overall it’s been a pretty good rotation this season,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “It’s good that they’re finishing strong.”
Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer in the third, Austin Jackson hit a two-run shot in the eighth, and Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario had solo shots for New York. McNeil and Brandon Nimmo made diving catches in the outfield, and Syndergaard won a footrace covering first base in the third inning to end Boston’s only real threat.
Ian Kinsler singled and stole second, Jackie Bradley Jr. walked and they pulled off an uncontested double steal — the only time in the game a Red Sox runner reached third base. Andrew Benintendi hit a grounder to second, and Syndergaard barely beat him to the bag as dove head-first.
The Mets starter also picked Kinsler off first in the seventh.
“He’s got great stuff,” Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez said. “He throws hard. He’s not just a chucker. He knows where the ball is going. He puts the ball where he wants it.”
Bruce also had a run-scoring double in the first against Red Sox emergency starter William Cuevas, who was making his first major league start because Hector Velazquez got sick. Cuevas (0-1) allowed back-to-back doubles to Michael Conforto and Bruce in the first, and then left after giving up Rosario’s leadoff single in the third.
Robby Scott hit Conforto with one out and then gave up Bruce’s homer to right. McNeil made it 5-0 in the fourth and Jackson cleared the Green Monster and the billboards above it to give the Mets a 7-0 lead. One out later, Rosario also put one over the left-field wall to make it 8-0 and chase Tyler Thornburg.
The Mets had an unwelcome visitor to their dugout in the fourth inning: a rat that sent the players scurrying away. No word on whether it was the same one that spooked the Red Sox in their dugout on Tuesday night. They paid tribute to their guest with a (presumably fake) rat skeleton on their dugout railing.
A healthy contingent of Mets fans helped boost the crowd of 37,117, Boston’s 40th sellout of the year. They cheered the visiting team’s homers, but both sides seemed united when the crowd broke out in a couple of “Yankees Suck!” chants.
“It was awesome, just the overall atmosphere, the history,” said Syndergaard, who visited the Green Monster scoreboard before the game. “It’s like pitching in a cathedral.”
The Red Sox announced about four hours before the game that Velazquez was ill. Cuevas, who made 23 starts in Triple-A this year but had come out of the bullpen in all eight of his big-league appearances, allowed two runs on three hits in two-plus innings, walking one and striking out four.
Red Sox: RHP Matt Barnes (left hip inflammation) threw off a mound for the first time since his injury. He last pitched Sept. 3. … Infielder Eduardo Nunez got the first of two scheduled games off, a day after an awkward stumble trying to beat a throw at first base.
The teams play the second game of the series at 4 p.m. Saturday. RHP Rick Porcello (16-7) is scheduled to start for Boston against RHP Corey Oswalt (3-2).