As a Mets reserve last season, Kirk Nieuwenhuis witnessed Noah Syndergaard’s ascent, including five games in which Syndergaard struck out 10 or more batters during an exceptional rookie season.
In the sixth inning on Sunday, having already struck out twice against Syndergaard, Nieuwenhuis, now a starting outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, was completely lost against his former teammate.
Syndergaard started him off with two 90-mile-per-hour changeups, against which Nieuwenhuis caught only air. Then Syndergaard unfurled a 98-m.p.h. heater, leaving Nieuwenhuis frozen with his bat on his shoulder.
That strikeout was Syndergaard’s 10th of the game and represented the third time he had reached double digits this season. He collected one more strikeout and allowed only an unearned run over seven innings, quieting the Brewers’ lineup and leading the Mets to a 3-1 victory that completed a three-game sweep at Citi Field.
Michael Conforto hit a solo home run into the visiting bullpen in the first inning and scored a go-ahead run on a single by Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth. Facing a full count, Cabrera waited on a 77-m.p.h. curveball from Chase Anderson and drove it to right field, bringing home Yoenis Cespedes as well.
Having used the setup man Addison Reed and closer Jeurys Familia in the first two games of the series, Manager Terry Collins said before the game that he needed a long outing from Syndergaard.
The Brewers scored the unearned run in the first inning, after third baseman David Wright misplayed a ground ball that allowed Scooter Gennett to reach base, but Syndergaard soon settled in, striking out seven of eight batters in a stretch that began in the second inning.
Syndergaard entered the seventh having thrown 96 pitches, and Collins’s strategy to squeeze one more inning out of him initially appeared unwise. The Brewers led off with two singles, and Syndergaard was showing signs of fatigue, bouncing pitches well in front of home plate. But with Hernan Perez on third base, Alex Presley tried to advance to second on a wild pitch and was thrown out by catcher Rene Rivera.
That seemed to calm Syndergaard, who fought back to strike out Ramon Flores. Aaron Hill then grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Finishing with six hits allowed and no walks, Syndergaard improved to 5-2 and lowered his E.R.A. to 1.94.
In the ninth, Collins again called on Familia, who allowed one hit in picking up his 15th save.
The Brewers were an appetizer served at a needed time, after the Mets had dropped two of three games to the first-place Washington Nationals to open their homestand. On Monday, they begin a three-game series in Washington.
Bartolo Colon is scheduled to pitch the opening game against the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez, but the focus will be on Tuesday’s game as Matt Harvey makes his first start since being shelled by the Nationals on Thursday in one of the worst outings of his career.
After Harvey threw a simulated game Saturday at Citi Field, Collins said both he and Harvey were pleased with the results. Because of the seriousness placed on the practice, and the number of pitches Harvey threw, Collins chose to give him an extra day to rest, even though Harvey had thrown only 61 pitches in his last start.