Syndergaard strong during debut in Mets' win
Top prospect strikes out two Braves over two scoreless innings
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Noah Syndergaard showed why he is one of baseball's top overall prospects and the Mets produced a five-run ninth inning to claim a 6-2 comeback win over the Braves on Monday afternoon at Champion Stadium.
After the Braves claimed a brief lead with a two-run eighth inning, Andrew Brown opened the ninth inning with a triple -- the first of three consecutive hits surrendered by Atahualpa Severino. Dustin Lawley tied the game with a single to center and Cory Vaughn followed with a decisive two-run double off Severino, who allowed hits to five of the six batters he faced.
Braves Minor League catcher Matt Kennelly capped a two-run eighth inning with a two-out infield single that Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores knocked down before making a late throw to first base. Elmer Reyes opened the eighth with a single and advanced to second base when Ryan Reid walked Matt Lipka. Reid allowed a sacrifice bunt and uncorked a game-tying wild pitch before surrendering Kennelly's single.
With the two-run eighth inning, the Braves erased a lead the Mets gained after Juan Lagares hit a one-out single in the fourth and advanced to third base on consecutive walks issued by Ryan Buchter. Flores scored Lagares with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to left field.
Syndergaard struck out Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis while completing two scoreless innings in the first Grapefruit League start of his promising career. Ryan Doumit's one-out single in the second inning accounted for the only hit surrendered by the 21-year-old Mets right-hander, who ranks as MLB.com's 11th-best overall prospect. He is aiming to join New York's rotation midway through the upcoming season.
While Syndergaard was electrifying radar guns with a fastball that topped out at 98 mph, Braves starting pitcher Freddy Garcia tossed three perfect innings without throwing a pitch that registered higher than 87 mph. Garcia has improved his bid to earn a spot on Atlanta's roster by opening the Grapefruit League season with five perfect innings.
Up next: Zack Wheeler will make his Grapefruit League season debut as the Mets host the Astros in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday at 1:10 p.m. ET (watch on MLB.TV). Wheeler is coming off a successful rookie season during which he went 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 17 starts. Kyle Farnsworth, John Church, Vic Black, Adam Kolarek, Scott Rice and Cory Mazzoni are also scheduled to pitch for the Mets.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.