Steven Matz pulled off his cap and used his jersey to wipe his brow. He walked quickly. Once he reached the dugout after his awful first inning, he ignored the pats on his shoulder and headed straight for the runway to the clubhouse.
In the video room, Matz pulled up footage of the changeup that Gary Sanchez had turned into a three-run homer. The swing not only was one of the biggest blows in the Mets’ 7-5 loss to the Yankees — who completed a four-game sweep of the Subway Series on Thursday night at Citi Field — but was a reminder of Matz’s massive struggles.
Matz equaled a career high by allowing seven runs (six earned) in 3 1⁄3 innings and his ERA swelled to 6.08. Manager Terry Collins left open the possibility of skipping his next start, even though injuries have left the Mets with few options.
“All those things will be discussed here in the next couple of days,’’ Collins said.
Matz (2-7), winless since June 28, is 0-6 with a 10.19 ERA in his last eight starts. He has allowed 57 hits in 32 2⁄3 innings in that span.
“I never want to find myself feeling lost,” he said. “But it’s not a good feeling. I haven’t gone through a stretch like this before in my career. It is tough, but I never want to say that I’m lost. I never want to quit like that. I want to think I’m just one step away from where I need to be and eventually it will just click.”
For the Mets (53-66), who are 13 games under .500 for the first time since 2013, and for Matz, failure has been a common theme. An elbow problem delayed the start of his season until June. After a promising beginning — he had a 2.12 ERA through his first five starts this season — Matz has struggled. He insisted that he’s healthy, even though one source said he has cut down on the intensity and length of his bullpen sessions to ease the strain on his elbow, perhaps making it more difficult to fine-tune his mechanics.
Matz disputed that notion. He said he has altered bullpen sessions — sometimes skipping them altogether — as a way to find a routine that brings results. Nothing has worked.
Matz had thought he made progress in his previous outing against the Phillies, when he allowed two runs in 5 2⁄3 innings. Collins called it “a big step.”
“Now,” Collins said after Thursday night’s game, “back to square one.”
Regression arrived swiftly in the first, when Matz made his own problems. When Brett Gardner hit a bouncer in front of the mound, Matz fielded it cleanly but airmailed the throw over the head of Dominic Smith. Aaron Hicks walked and, one out later, Matz got ahead of Sanchez 0-and-2 before allowing the home run. By the end of the first inning, Matz had thrown 40 pitches.
In the fourth, Gardner lined a two-run double off Matz and Sanchez lined a two-run single against reliever Chasen Bradford, with the runs charged to Matz. A batter earlier, with an 0-and-2 count on Aaron Judge, Matz plunked him on the arm. It was a surefire sign of the spotty command that has plagued him for much of the season.