Noah Syndergaard

Does this video show Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard cheating against the Phillies?

Does this video show Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard cheating against the Phillies?

Put on your tin hats, folks, we’ve got ourselves a conspiracy. You be the judge.

There’s a video, from ESPN's broadcast of the game, that is starting to gain a lot of attention on social media that shows Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard doing something, perhaps, suspicious with his index and middle fingers during the fifth inning of last night’s 7-6 Mets win.

The video shows Syndergaard digging his fingers into the base of his glove, seemingly with some sort of purpose. What could he have been doing?

While we expected a pitchers' duel on Monday night between Aaron Nola and Syndergaard, we got something much different. In a game that featured an over/under of just 7.5, the teams combined for 13 runs, with 10 against the ace starters over just the first five innings. Were the playing conditions a factor?

The game time temperature at Citizens Bank Park was just 50 degrees with 24 mph wind whipping across the field. Needless to say, that’s not ideal conditions for anything outside except flying a kite. Either Syndergaard was doing absolutely nothing wrong, or, he could have been seeking to gain an advantage by placing a substance at the base of his glove to improve his grip, perhaps a sticky substance like pine tar.

As ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote last year, pitchers seemingly are using pine tar to gain a better grip on the baseball, perhaps on a cold night or to increase their spin and movement, but it’s a rule that hasn’t been strictly enforced. The last notable case of a player getting caught using pine tar was back in 2014 when Michael Pineda had some not-so-subtlety slathered on his neck. He received an immediate ejection and a 10-game suspension.

At the very least, Major League Baseball should examine the glove-in-question immediately, and if Syndergaard is found to have been cheating, he should be punished.

However, given that I have absolutely no idea what Syndergaard was doing, he deserves some benefit of doubt for the time being. Should his glove, and perhaps video, be examined and nothing found to be wrong, then at least we will know for sure and he should be given full clemency.

It will be interesting to see if Major League Baseball, will do anything, or if Gabe Kapler will say anything, if asked. 

That would be one heck of a move from Syndergaard, though, to cheat against the Phillies with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in the building last night.

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Phillies 4, Mets 0: After 2 straight series wins, bring on the Braves

Phillies 4, Mets 0: After 2 straight series wins, bring on the Braves

BOX SCORE

Zach Eflin is pitching as well as he has since June, Rhys Hoskins added another startling stat to his résumé with career homer No. 50, and the Phillies won a series against a team other than the Marlins for the first time since July 25.

Boy, did the Phils need this 4-0 win, too, with the Braves beating the Cardinals earlier in the day ahead of the all-important four-game showdown in Atlanta beginning Thursday.

"We're going to Atlanta ready to win," Eflin said after the game, with some confidence.

At 78-73, the Phils are 5½ games back in the NL East with 11 to play. Any combination of six Braves wins or Phillies losses will result in Atlanta winning the division.

"We're in a pretty unique postion, an exciting position that doesn't happen all that often," Hoskins said. "As a competitor, it's all you can ask for — you control your own destiny."

This is the first time the Phillies have won back-to-back series since their first two series out of the All-Star break.

Success vs. Syndergaard

Four meetings with Noah Syndergaard in 2018 and the Phillies hit him around all four times. Syndergaard lasted just four innings, put seven men on base, allowed three runs and two homers.

Syndergaard had a 5.75 ERA in his four starts against the Phillies and they hit .326 off him.

In a year filled with weak offensive performances vs. mediocre pitchers, the Phils had little trouble with Syndergaard. The only other ace-type they did some damage against was Stephen Strasburg.

Hoskins has reached base in 8 of 13 career plate appearances vs. Syndergaard with two homers and two doubles (see story).

"There's something about velocity that simplifies things," Hoskins said. "It gives you less time to think. We've stuck to our game plan really well against him. As that goes on, you build confidence against a guy and when something works, you stick with it."

Eflin deals

Eflin was cruising until the fifth inning, when his pitch count rose in a high-stress situation. With runners on the corners and the Mets' most dangerous hitter, Michael Conforto, at the plate, Eflin was able to gear up to strike him out on a full count.

Eflin struck out nine over five scoreless innings. He faced 21 batters and only one put the ball in the air.

The Phillies have desperately needed someone to step up in the rotation other than Aaron Nola and these last two starts, Eflin has done it. He's given up one run in 11⅓ innings in wins over the Marlins and Mets.

Pinch-hit decisions pay off

These last two nights, Gabe Kapler's pinch-hit decisions in the middle innings have paid off.

On Tuesday, he used Wilson Ramos and Justin Bour in place of J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery in the sixth inning. Ramos hit an RBI single and Bour tied the game with an RBI double. The Phillies scored five in the inning to win the game.

On Wednesday, Kapler turned to Jose Bautista over Odubel Herrera against a lefty in the fifth inning. An interesting choice with Herrera having homered in his previous at-bat.

Bautista rewarded his skipper with an RBI double.

Up next

Phillies and Braves, four games at SunTrust Park beginning Thursday at 7:35 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The pitching matchups:

Vince Velasquez (9-11, 4.50) vs. Kevin Gausman (5-2, 2.61)

Nick Pivetta (7-13, 4.67) vs. Julio Teheran (9-8, 3.97)

Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.77) vs. LHP Sean Newcomb (12-9, 4.04)

Aaron Nola (16-5, 2.44) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (11-10, 2.90)

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Phillies enter a meeting vs. Noah Syndergaard with a whole lot of confidence

ap-mets-noah-syndergaard.jpg
AP Images

Phillies enter a meeting vs. Noah Syndergaard with a whole lot of confidence

The Phillies won again behind Aaron Nola Friday night. Now they have to beat the Mets with someone else.

The Phils are 4-1 against the Mets when Nola starts this season and 2-7 when anyone else does.

But there were several positive signs for Gabe Kapler's team Friday in Flushing …

Phillies (74-66) at Mets (63-77)

Zach Eflin (9-6, 4.05) vs. Noah Syndergaard (10-3, 3.33)

First pitch: 7:10 p.m. 
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Streaming: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App
Phillies Pregame Live begins at 6:30 p.m. ET

The spark Rhys needed?

Rhys Hoskins was riding a 2-for-30 slump when he stepped to the plate in the eighth inning and deposited a solo shot into the left-field seats to give Nola and the Phillies a 4-3 win.

It was Hoskins' 28th homer of the season and the 16th that gave the Phils a lead.

It bodes well because when Hoskins homers, he homers in bunches. When he last homered before Friday, he did so in back-to-back games. His last homer before that? Back-to-back games. In late July, we saw him homer seven times in eight games.

Hoskins is on pace for 32 homers and 98 RBI. If he can settle in this weekend against Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, it would be a great sign that a strong finish is ahead for the Phillies' most important hitter.

Santana's solid September

Historically, September has been Carlos Santana's best month. The last three Septembers, he's hit .310/.417/.548. 

In his last 21 games overall, Santana has hit .307 with six doubles, five homers and 15 RBI. He hit a two-run homer Friday and also made a great diving stop at first base.

Santana has one more homer (21) this season than Freddie Freeman and one fewer RBI (81) than Paul Goldschmidt.

Running on Syndergaard

Syndergaard is coming off a two-hit, one-run complete game with 11 strikeouts against the Giants.

But he hasn't been himself against the Phillies this season. In two starts against the Phils, Syndergaard has a 5.59 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. The Phillies have hit .300 off of him.

And the last time the Phils saw Syndergaard, they stole second base five times. Syndergaard has never been able to hold runners on and said after that game that it's gotten embarrassing (see story).

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