SAN DIEGO: When Jon Jay led off the bottom of the first Friday (Saturday in Manila) evening with a double, an air of invincibility seemingly began to dissipate from the mound at Petco Park. When Matt Kemp threw his hands at a 91 mph slider, lifting a high fly ball to center field, Jay watched it into the glove of Juan Lagares and charged down the third-base line. A moment later, Jay crossed home plate and, without breaking stride, jogged into the dugout and waded through a crowd of high-fives.
The scoreboard read: Padres 1, Mets 0.
San Diego would go on to double its lead, nicking towering right-hander Noah Syndergaard for another run in the fifth. The visiting offense would remain inert, flummoxed by the home team’s own emerging starting pitcher.
In so doing, the Padres finally found themselves on the right end of a whitewashing. They blanked the Mets, 2-0, with another strong outing from lefty Drew Pomeranz, timely hitting from leadoff man Jay and a crisp effort from the bullpen.
After being shut out a major league-high eight times through their first 28 games, the Padres (13-17) doled out their first shutout victory of the season and claimed at least a split of a four-game series. The Mets (17-11) own the game’s best young rotation. Over the first two legs of this matchup, they have scored in only one of 18 innings. In the meantime, a pair of young Padres arms has made strong impressions.
Thursday, Colin Rea took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning.
Friday, Pomeranz overcame his own inefficiency to out-duel Syndergaard, the game’s hardest-throwing starter. The southpaw issued three walks before giving up the Mets’ first hit, a fourth-inning single by Asdrubal Cabrera. He finished with five shutdown innings, just that one hit allowed and five strikeouts.
Jay, who had never faced Syndergaard, ignored the axiom that the advantage goes to the pitcher in first encounters. After doubling and scoring in the first, he singled in the third and again in the fifth, scoring Jemile Weeks; the Padres infielder had drawn a leadoff walk and stolen second.
In his first season with the Padres, Pomeranz has been unleashed as a starter. Once accustomed to 75-pitch counts in Colorado, he has flourished in the early going in San Diego. He improved to 3-3 while lowering his earned-run average to 2.12.
Syndergaard threw six innings of two-run ball but was saddled with a loss.
The Padres can clinch their third consecutive series with a win Saturday. They have won six of their last eight games by playing sound baseball.
In the sixth inning of Friday’s victory, right fielder Kemp ran down a warning-track drive, speared the ball to end the inning and pounded the wall in celebration.
In the seventh, the Padres completed a 7-6-2 putout, denying the Mets on an over-aggressive send by third-base coach Tim Tuefel. Padres catcher Derek Norris tweaked his left knee during the play at the plate and spent several minutes wincing in pain. Manager Andy Green and two athletic trainers emerged from the dugout. Norris convinced them he was OK to continue.
Following Pomeranz’s departure, Kevin Quackenbush, Ryan Buchter, Brandon Maurer and closer Fernando Rodney each pitched a scoreless inning.