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After a pair of outings that were far from typical for Noah Syndergaard, the New York Mets' hard-throwing right-hander hopes to return to his usual form.
Syndergaard gets that opportunity Friday night against a team he dominated earlier this season when the Mets visit the Miami Marlins, who are seeking their fifth win in the last six games of this NL East series.
Miami (29-25) took the first two of a three-game set over New York (29-23) from April 11-13, extending its win streak in this matchup to four games dating to September.
The Marlins won the middle game 2-1 despite a typical Syndergaard performance. The 6-foot-6, 242-pound flamethrower struck out 12 over seven innings, allowing seven hits and a run.
However, Syndergaard (5-2, 1.84 ERA) is coming off a pair of odd appearances. First, the second-year pitcher threw only 34 pitches in Saturday's 9-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers before he was ejected in the third inning for firing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley - seemingly a retaliation for Utley's postseason takeout slide at second base that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Syndergaard was immediately ejected by plate umpire Adam Hamari.
"It was just a pitch that got away from me. That's all I got," Syndergaard said. "I can understand why (Hamari) did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better."
Three days later, Syndergaard made the first regular-season relief appearance of his two-year career. He struck out two Chicago White Sox hitters in a perfect seventh inning of Tuesday's 6-4 loss. Syndergaard consistently hit 100 mph on the radar gun while throwing 17 pitches.
In Syndergaard's lone career outing against the Marlins in April, third baseman Derek Dietrich went 2 for 3 with a double and RBI off him.
A matchup against Syndergaard might be a nightmare right now for Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The three-time All-Star has struck out 21 times in his last 41 plate appearances, going 4 for 34 in the 10-game stretch. One of his two RBIs in the slump came on a May 24 home run before taking a week off with soreness in his right side.
Though Stanton returned in Wednesday's 3-2 win over Pittsburgh, Dietrich exited after getting hit on the wrist. According to MLB's official website, X-rays revealed a bone bruise, and the second baseman hopes to only miss a couple games.
"It didn't sound good, from him," manager Don Mattingly told MLB's website. "He felt like something happened right away. Usually guys kind of hang in there and say, 'Ah, wait, wait (to check out the injury).' He knew something right away, which is not great. Hopefully we'll get some good news."
Christian Yelich hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the 12th inning Thursday night to lift the Miami Marlins to a 4-3 victory over the Pirates. A Miami lineup that has scored just 10 runs its last four games will back Tom Koehler on Friday.
Koehler (3-5, 4.50) has been wild over his last five starts but somewhat effective. While the right-hander is 1-2 with 22 walks in the stretch, he has 24 strikeouts and a 2.56 ERA.
The five-year pro picked up his first win since April 26 with Sunday's 7-3 victory at Atlanta. Koehler gave up three hits and three runs - two earned - while walking five in seven innings in his fourth straight game issuing five walks.
Koehler is 2-5 with a 4.26 ERA in 14 career starts against the Mets. He held an 8.22 ERA in five 2015 starts in the NL East matchup.