The sun rose and set, fans came to the game despite pockets of migraine-inducing traffic. So, while enduring Life After Matt, matters pretty much stayed the same for the Mets on Saturday.
And yes, they lost again, a fifth straight defeat, this time 2-0 to the Rockies as the Mets wasted a strong effort by Steven Matz at Citi Field.
After the Mets officially designated Matt Harvey for assignment, Matz gave them everything they desired, throwing six solid, three-hit innings that contained just one major blot — Nolan Arenado’s first-inning solo homer.
But it was a blot the Mets could not overcome — and the Rockies added a run in the ninth for the 2-0 margin. Pinch-hitter David Dahl singled with the bases loaded and only a cannon-like throw from Yoenis Cespedes home to nail Noel Cuevas kept it 2-0. A review upheld the call and it was the second runner thrown out by Mets outfielders. Wade Davis pitched the ninth for his 13th save.
The Mets threatened several times. In the eighth, against Colorado’s strikeout machine reliever Adam Ottavino, Cespedes reached on a forceout grounder (a review upheld a safe call at first). He stole second but died there as Asdrubal Cabrera struck out and Jay Bruce flied to the warning track in left.
Matz (1-3) in his 88-pitch effort, walked one, struck out five and was slapped for just a pair of singles, beyond the homer. But Rockies starter Chad Bettis (4-1) pitched seven innings of shutout ball while scattering six hits.
Matz missed a turn in the rotation because of back pain — discomfort near the left scapula. So he made his first start since April 25 when the Cards rocked him for a career-high-tying seven runs (three earned) in 3 ¹/₃ innings. In the wake of that game, manager Mickey Callaway noted Matz had identified troubling areas.
“He is recognizing what is going on, that things are speeding up and he’s having trouble slowing them down when things start to go bad,” Callaway said.
So it was back to the baseball lab drawing board and Callaway expressed confidence Matz’s abilities could carry him through.
“Obviously everybody has moments during the game that are pretty tough,” said Callaway, who claimed beforehand he was anxious to see the mental side of Matz’s effort as much as anything.
“His stuff is there. He can be an elite left-handed pitcher if he has the right mentality and can overcome things that happen during a game,” Callaway said.
Matz took a quick jolt in the first as Arenado slammed a 1-1 two-seam fastball into whatever zip code the mechanical apple in center field resides for his eighth homer and a 1-0 Colorado lead.
Matz stiffened his previously sore back in the second inning. Chris Iannetta singled and advanced to second with no out on a passed ball by Tomas Nido. But Matz buckled down and found three straight outs — he had to, especially with the zombie-like early showing again by the Mets offense. There was no evidence at all of any issues with the back for the lefty.
Bettis had little worries through five innings, except for an ultimately harmless fuss in the fourth. Bettis gave up two-out singles to Cespedes in the first and Amed Rosario in the fifth. In the fourth, also with two out, Bruce doubled to left, Todd Frazier walked but Adrian Gonzalez grounded out ending the threat.
The Mets had an interesting — but scoreless — sixth. Cabrera delivered his second hit, a single to center. Bruce then sent a lined laser that slammed off first baseman Ian Desmond, setting up first and second. Frazier followed with his own rocket, but directly to shortstop Trevor Story and Cabrera was doubled off.
Though the Mets had trouble getting on the board, they kept the Rockies off after the Arenado bomb, using a strong defensive play in the sixth. Charlie Blackmon singled and stole second. He then tried to tag up and take third on Desmond’s hard liner to center. But Blackmon was deader than disco as Brandon Nimmo nailed him with a strong throw. Nimmo almost had another assist in the eighth but Pat Valaika took second on a fly out, avoiding Cabrera’s tag.
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