Whatever Frank Viola was yelling from the 51s dugout on a sweltering Sunday afternoon at Cashman Field certainly didn’t sound like sweet music to home plate umpire Scott Mahoney, who ejected the Las Vegas pitching coach in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
51s manager Wally Backman was upset after the game, when he reprimanded his team in a closed-door meeting for its sloppy play, which resulted in three errors for the second straight day.
However, when all was said and done, Las Vegas emerged with a 6-5 comeback win over the Salt Lake Bees behind Matt Reynolds’ go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh inning and a solid start by Noah Syndergaard, who allowed one earned run and had eight strikeouts in five innings.
Since giving up seven runs in five innings to Salt Lake in his first start following the All-Star break, Syndergaard — the New York Mets’ No. 1 prospect — has allowed only one earned run in 11 1/3 innings over his last two starts, scattering nine hits with 13 strikeouts and five walks.
“The difference today was I had a lot better command of my fastball,” the 21-year-old said. “I feel like I could command it to both sides of the plate and even when I missed, I missed in, so I still made them a little bit more uncomfortable to get in the box.
“I feel like I’m getting better as a pitcher each time I go out there. I have a good relationship with (catcher Taylor) Teagarden right now and have a good idea of what we’re doing every time I get on the mound. Hopefully, I can just keep it rolling and get a little bit of consistency going. That’s something I haven’t really had all year.”
Syndergaard, who fired 6 1/3 shutout innings at Tacoma in his previous outing, departed after throwing 103 pitches.
“He’s still got a ways to go — we have to get more work in those amount of pitches — but today was another positive day,” Viola said. “He just has to gain some experience and understand a little bit more what pitches to throw in what counts and once he gets that down, you’re not going to see him (in Triple A) again. He’s going to be in the big leagues for a long time.”
The 6-foot-6-inch Syndergaard throws in the high 90s and has been clocked at 100 mph, but lately he’s relying less on his fastball.
“I’m throwing more offspeed pitches in fastball counts because I’ve got to be able to do that once I get to the big leagues,” he said. “I feel I did a good job of keeping them on their toes a little bit (Sunday) just because I wasn’t so fastball happy.
“I threw two or three 3-2 curveballs. That’s something I normally wouldn’t feel very comfortable with, but I feel like I executed well. I got a couple strikeouts off of that.”
Viola and Backman were both impressed with the way Syndergaard battled Sunday.
“He didn’t have the command he had in his last outing, but he fought through it and was able to make quality pitches when he had to make them,” Backman said. “For Noah, it’s all about consistency. Once he proves to be consistent, all his pitches play in the big leagues.”
Las Vegas (61-49) has won two of three against Salt Lake (45-64) — which has the fewest wins in the Pacific Coast League — but Backman has been disappointed with his squad’s performance.
“I’m not going to let any team (expletive) outhustle us, and that’s exactly what they’ve done the last three days,” he said. “Our guys are laughing about those guys bunting. They beat us (Saturday) because of their speed, and it ain’t (expletive) funny.
“To me, we haven’t been mentally prepared for over a week. You can’t play the game the way we played the game today, even though we won, and expect to go to the big leagues — because you’re not getting my stamp of approval, No. 1, until you play the game the right way and play it hard.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.