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Steven Matz goes only five innings, but thinks he’s turning a corner

Steven Matz of the Mets pitches against the

Steven Matz of the Mets pitches against the Athletics at Citi Field on July 20, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Normally after throwing 83 pitches through five innings, Steven Matz wouldn’t think his evening was finished. But that wasn’t the case Friday night.

With runners on first and second and one out, Mets manager Terry Collins pinch hit Curtis Granderson for Matz in the bottom of the fifth. Matz, an East Setauket native, had allowed three runs, including two in the fifth inning, and the Mets trailed by one run. The lefthander said he wasn’t surprised by Collins’ decision.

“It was a big situation there,” Matz said. “It was a one-run ballgame, so got to do what you got to do.”

The Mets didn’t score in the frame, with Granderson grounding out and Michael Conforto flying out, but the Mets did go on to win the home contest, 7-5, over Oakland.

“It was the fifth inning, he had 83 pitches,” Collins said. “He also gave up nine hits. With the last two outings he had, I said, ‘You know what? He’s only going to face four more hitters’ . . . I said I got a chance to maybe get a lead here and put it away, so we made the decision.”

Collins said he planned to remove Matz once the top of the Oakland lineup returned to the plate, which had given Matz trouble throughout the evening.

Matz has struggled recently and it looked like Friday night could follow suit. After allowing five runs in 4 1⁄3 innings July 9 and then seven runs and nine hits while unable to get an out in the second inning in a 13-4 loss to Colorado on Sunday, Matz surrendered hits to the first three Oakland hitters Friday, allowing a run. He settled in from there, recording a double play and a strikeout to escape the top of the first trailing 1-0.

The lefthander has blamed the inability to locate the corners and leaving the ball over the middle of the plate for his struggles.

“I was commanding the ball a little better and my breaking ball was a little better but I’m still kind of leaving the ball fat on the heart of the plate,” Matz said. “That’s why they’re able to get their barrels to it.”

He’s hoping to fine-tune his fastball command and location even further in upcoming bullpen sessions.

“I don’t think I’m far off,” Matz said. “I think it’s just a minor adjustment I got to make. Just look at some video and work on it in my bullpen.”

New York Sports