Midway through Monday's 7-3 road win over the Washington Nationals, the Mets extended their lead to four runs in the top of the fourth inning on 3B Jeff McNeil's two-run blast to center field.
Before they pulled away with the five-run frame, C Rene Rivera, who scored on McNeil's home run, was blunt with RHP Noah Snydergaard.
"In between innings, he came up to me and was like, 'We're going to continue to go about it as if it's a 0-0 ballgame,'" Syndergaard said.
Syndergaard followed Rene's words as he led the Mets past the Nationals, with his 7.0 scoreless innings highlighted by three hits and 10 strikeouts.
The dominant outing by Syndegaard led the Mets (70-67, 14.0 GB in NL East, 4.0 GB for second Wild Card) past the Nationals (77-59, 6.5 GB in NL East, 3.5 GA for first Wild Card) for a statement victory in the opener of another pivotal three-game series.
It was just what the doctor ordered, too, after Syndergaard's season-worst performance -- 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits (three home runs) in last Wednesday's 10-7 loss to the Wild Card-leading Chicago Cubs -- cast a dark cloud over his second-half success.
"It's hard to hold your head high after those outings," Syndergaard said, "but just the spirit of this team kept us moving forward."
Such has been the theme in August for the hot-and-cold Mets, who have now followed consecutive sweeps against the Cubs (last Tuesday through Wednesday) and Atlanta Braves (Aug. 23-25) with two out of three wins over the Philadelphia Phillies and a series-opening victory over the Nationals.
"It's just all about how you can have a short-term memory and forget and move on," Syndergaard said.
Sans the Cubs clunker, Syndergaard is 4-2 in nine starts since the All-Star break, logging 61.1 innings with 65 strikeouts to 12 walks and 1.62 ERA.
"When they go that bad, I think you just chalk it up to a bad day," said manager Mickey Callaway. "He's a great pitcher and has been on a great roll, so you take that one clunker out and he's been unbelievable. So I think you just contribute it to a bad day."
With five days to let his disappointment marinate, Syndergaard turned the page and recorded his third shutout performance of the season, setting the tone for the Mets as they mount momentum and aim for their second straight series win.
"I had to find a happy medium in between starts because when you have a start like that, those five days or four days in between are very long," Syndergaard said. "And I just wanted to get out there and work, work, work as much as I could to make sure that never happened again. It was kind of unfortunate to have that horrible of an outing, but you've just got to embrace it at the end of it and really see it as a blessing to get better."