It was Weather Education Day at Citi Field Wednesday afternoon — a day where about 8,000 schoolchildren got to learn about the finer points of meteorology from weather experts and from nature itself. Oh, and from Steven Matz, too.
Sure, Mother Nature brought the rain. But (with apologies to Thor, Noah Syndergaard), it was Matz who brought the lightning.
Working quickly, efficiently, and very, very effectively, Matz put together a masterful performance. The lefty allowed only two hits in 7 2⁄3 innings as the Mets pushed aside the last-place Braves, 8-0, in a zippy 2 hours, 28 minutes in a very damp Flushing matinee. They hit four home runs, two from Lucas Duda, who first hit one to the right, and then the left, to make for a breezy afternoon for the 24-year-old from Stony Brook.
“What he did today is how I think you pitch,” Terry Collins said of Matz’s effortless pace. “You get the ball on the mound and throw it. It keeps you in a better rhythm. You’re not thinking about anything except throwing strikes . . . Even though the weather might’ve been conducive to making him work a little faster, I still think that’s the best way to go about pitching.”
Mixing all his pitches, Matz was almost untouchable, winning his fourth straight decision in an operatic performance where the Braves were reduced to mere spectators. The two hits he allowed were soft singles to left, and he hit one batter, struck out eight and did not walk anyone. Since his first start of the season when he allowed seven earned runs in 1 2⁄3 innings, Matz has pitched to a 0.67 ERA. He gave up a single to pitcher Jhoulys Chacin in the third and didn’t allow another batter to reach until he plunked Freddie Freeman in the seventh.
Erick Aybar’s two-out single in the eighth got Matz pulled in favor of Jim Henderson. He threw 106 pitches, 78 for strikes.
“His stuff was great,” said catcher Rene Rivera, in his second game with the Mets. “His composure out there on the mound, his stuff did great. All the pitches worked . . . It’s awesome.”
“We were on the same page all game.”
And despite the unfriendly weather — it was misting and eventually raining for almost the entire game — that didn’t do much to dampen the Mets’ bats, which produced one hit for Matt Harvey on Tuesday.
Wilmer Flores drew a two-out walk in the third and Rivera lined a 1-and-0 slider inside the leftfield foul pole for his first home run of the season to give the Mets a 2-0 advantage. It was his first hit with the team and snapped a 17-inning scoreless streak for the Mets.
The Mets added two more two-run homers in the third inning, one by Asdrubal Cabrera after Curtis Granderson’s leadoff walk, and another by Duda, on Chacin’s 85-mph cutter, to give the Mets a 6-0 lead.
Duda added a second homer, a shot to left-center, with two outs in the fifth, making it the 14th multi-home run game of his career. Flores added an RBI double to provide the final margin.
“It’s definitely nice to get that run support,” said Matz, who has been supported by a total of 35 runs in his four wins. “It’s a lot of fun pitching in those games.”
It seemed obvious he was having fun Wednesday. Snapping the ball back from Rivera — a catcher he’s never worked with before — and plugging along with nearly mechanical precision.
That pace, “it comes naturally,” he said. “Sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down,especially if I’m 2-and-0 and I remind myself, slow it down here.”
But like those kids learned Wednesday — there’s just no stopping a force of nature.
Steven Matz’s ERA after his first start when he allowed seven runs in 1 2⁄3 innings was 37.80. It’s now down to 2.83. His combined numbers for his last four starts:
IP H ER BB K W-L ERA
27 21 2 5 29 4-0 0.67