Steven Matz had been everything the Mets could ask for in almost every start for the past two months. He was not close to that on Saturday against the Yankees. The southpaw out of Ward Melville High School lacked the crisp fastball that marked that stretch and got tapped for five runs in five-plus innings of the 7-6 loss at the Stadium.
The Yankees hit several balls hard off Matz before they broke through for four runs in the fourth inning on five hits including three that went for extra bases. When Miguel Andujar opened the Yankees’ sixth with a double to right and Greg Bird followed with a run-scoring single, Matz’s afternoon was done and he ended up with the loss when the Mets’ ninth-inning rally fell short.
He allowed nine hits and one walk with three strikeouts.
“My stuff just wasn’t sharp — that’s the bottom line,” Matz said. “Everything was up in the zone. I couldn’t really command the fastball the way I wanted to. The breaking ball was up. I just wasn’t sharp out there really overall. I made some good pitches, but overall made a lot of bad pitches.”
Over his previous 10 starts, dating to May 24, Matz pitched at least six innings on seven occasions and in total threw 59.1 innings to a 2.73 ERA. One of his best weapons in that stretch — the inside fastball — was not there Saturday.
“I thought he battled,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He was up in the zone a little bit, which works out some against this lineup. He got some outs as a byproduct of that, but in return his ball was kind of flat running out over the plate. He wasn’t able to get it in like we’ve seen him do effectively the last two months.”
“That’s where I live and die — on the inner half of the plate — and I was just leaving a lot of balls out over the plate,” Matz said. “It was even to lefthanders for whatever reason.”
Lefthanded hitters Didi Gregorius and Greg Bird benefitted. Gregorius had a run-scoring triple in the fourth, with help from centerfielder Matt den Dekker’s poor route to the ball. Bird had an RBI double in the fourth as well as the run-scoring single.
Callaway said Matz’s fortitude in combating his lack of fastball command gave him hope the Mets would get six innings from him.
“I thought he had a chance to go six [innings] and give up four [runs], but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Callaway said.
Matz didn’t want to speculate about whether the long layoff since his last start — July 12 — might have had an impact on his command. He simply said “I just know that today I didn’t have great command.”