Noah Syndergaard Dominates in Las Vegas 51s 9th Straight Win
With a record of 8-2 in their last 10 games, an eight-game win streak, and their ace on the mound, the Las Vegas 51s had everything going their way. At least on paper. This looked like it was the ideal situation to give the club its ninth straight win, and move them to 15-8 on this young season. While sometimes the ideal situation fails to produce the ideal result, on this night the expected became reality as Noah Syndergaard dominated in a 3-0 win over the Reno Aces.
Syndergaard entered the contest especially hot. He had not allowed more than two runs in any of his three starts this season, and had not been scored upon in his last eight innings pitched. The big right-hander was going to ensure that the club’s win streak was not going end on his watch.
Syndergaard did not exactly have the perfect start he was looking for. Reno’s Garrett Weber led of the game with a line drive double into rightfield, but the right-hander looked completely unfazed. He struck out Danny Worth, got Peter O’Brien to fly out to rightfield, and induced Nick Evans to ground to third to end the threat.
Justin Marks started for the Aces, and looked quite good himself. Marks retired the first two batters of the game before giving up a single Matt Reynolds. Reynolds stole his sixth base of the season with Alex Castellanos at the plate. Not really wanting much of Castellanos, the Reno starter walked him. Travis Taijeron then lined a single into leftfield to score Reynolds and move Castellanos to third. Cory Vaughn followed with a single of his own, scoring Castellanos, and giving Syndergaard all the runs he would need.
From there the Las Vegas 51s starter took control. He retired the side in both the second and third, issuing a walk in the second, while striking out four through the first three innings. In the top of the fourth O’Brien led off with his eighth double of the season, but Syndergaard struck out the next three batters, all on swinging strikes, stranding O’Brien at second.
In the top of the fifth Syndergaard retired the side in order, striking out his eighth batter of the game during the frame. The big story of the inning was that star prospect Alex Castellanos was replaced at first by Brooks Conrad, but a reason was not provided for the move.
In the top of the sixth the 51s’ starter showed why he is so good. With one out, Worth lined a shot to the left-centerfield wall, and cruised into third with a triple. This was the Aces chance to get back into the game. Syndergaard was having none of that, however. O’Brien grounded a hard shot to third baseman Danny Muno, who made a nice play to knock the ball down, hold Worth at third, and then throw out O’Brien. Evans grounded to third as well, and the inning was over with no runs crossing the plate for Reno.
In the bottom of the sixth Syndergaard received an insurance run when Cory Vaughn drilled a home run over the left-centerfield wall for his second round-tripper of the year. Vaughn has been on fire of late, posting a 7-8 performance in this series.
Despite allowing the three runs, Marks (2-3) pitched quite well. He would take the loss, pitching 6 innings, allowing 5 hits, 5 walks, and 3 earned runs, with 5 strikeouts.
Syndergaard remained on the hill for the seventh inning. He walked Jamie Romak to begin the frame, then stuck out Cody Ransom for his ninth strikeout of the game. Blake Lalli followed with a single to put runners on first and second with one out. A ground ball out by Trayvon Robinson moved the two runners up 90-feet. That brought pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen to the plate. Syndergaard worked the plate, striking out Frandsen on the 100th pitch he had thrown in the game, keeping the shutout intact.
That would be the last inning of work for the Las Vegas 51s ace. Syndergaard (2-0) finished with seven shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks. He also struck out 10, a season high. He ran his personal scoreless streak to 15 innings, and lowered his ERA to 1.66, ranked third in the Pacific Coast League.
John Church and Scott Rice finished out the shutout for Las Vegas. Church pitched 1.1 innings, allowing 2 hits, while striking out 1. Rice retired the two batters he faced.
The Las Vegas 51s will be looking to increase their win streak to double digits tomorrow when they take on the Reno Aces in the final game of this home stand. Reno sends Blake Beaven (0-1) to the hill, while Las Vegas counters with Darin Gorski (2-1). Game time is 12:05 local time.
By Robert Pannier