SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SYRACUSE METS) –
The Syracuse Mets finally returned to action on Thursday night and did not disappoint. The home team led wire-to-wire in a 5-2 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple-A Philadelphia Phillies) on a comfortable and partially sunny night at NBT Bank Stadium. The Mets and IronPigs could not play the prior two nights because of poor air quality in the area due to ongoing wildfires in Canada.
After stranding two runners on base in the bottom of the first inning, Syracuse (23-35) wouldn’t go scoreless again in the bottom of the second inning. It all got started with nobody on base and two outs when Michael Perez and Carlos Cortes both walked to extend the inning. The next batter, Danny Mendick, promptly pummeled a pitch over the left-field wall for a three-run homer and a 3-0 lead for the Mets in a flash. Mendick ended up having a brilliant night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and three runs driven in.
In the bottom of the third, the Mets scored again via the long ball. After Tyler White singled to start the frame, DJ Stewart brought him home when he crushed a ball over the wall in right-center field for a two-run shot and a 5-0 lead for Syracuse just like that. Stewart finished the night 2-for-3 at the plate with a double, a home run, a walk, and two runs driven in. The former Florida State Seminole has loved facing Lehigh Valley this season as five of his 11 total home runs on the campaign have come against the IronPigs.
From there, Joey Lucchesi did the rest. The left-handed starter was absolutely brilliant for the Syracuse Mets, striking out nine batters while allowing just four hits and two walks in seven strong innings of work. The only blemish on Lucchesi was a two-out, two-run single from Darick Hall in the bottom of the sixth. Aside from that, the 30-year-old from California was nearly untouchable. Eight of the nine strikeouts from Lucchesi were swinging, utilizing his signature “churve” breaking ball to devastating precision.
After Lucchesi’s seven innings of work, the bullpen finished the job from there. First, Vinny Nittoli tossed a scoreless eighth in his debut this season with Syracuse, striking out a batter in a 1-2-3 inning. Nittoli pitched against the Mets with both Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Buffalo last season.
In the ninth, Josh Walker struck out two in a scoreless frame of his own to seal the deal. It was the first save of the season for Walker, who now owns a 1.45 ERA in 18 and two-thirds innings with 26 strikeouts. The 28-year-old and former 37th-round pick made his Major League debut with the New York Mets earlier this season.
Syracuse is home all week hosting the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at NBT Bank Stadium. Game two of the five-game series is set for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch on Friday.