Steven Matz reached the dugout, jumped up on the bench and sat quietly with his elbows on his knees. This time there would be no public outburst after getting knocked around, only a private moment of frustration about an afternoon lost.
The Mets began the second half seemingly intent on avoiding a trade deadline sell-off, thrashing the Rockies in consecutive games. But that momentum dissipated beneath a fusillade of line drives Sunday as they absorbed a 13-4 drubbing and Matz turned in the worst start of his three-year major-league career.
“It’s just not the way you write it up,” said the lefthander, whose day lasted one inning-plus. “It’s frustrating. But I’ve got to flush it. I’ve got another start coming up in five days and I’ve got to prepare for that. Just learn from my mistakes here and keep going.”
On Friday, general manager Sandy Alderson said the Mets would have to play “exceedingly well” to change his plans to sell leading up to the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. The Mets seemed to respond, outscoring the Rockies 23-5. But just as quickly, they found themselves hopelessly out of the series finale, falling behind 9-0.
Lucas Duda and Asdrubal Cabre ra homered off Jeff Hoffman (6-1), which meant more to their trade value than to the outcome of the game.
On paper, the Mets won two of three games, a series victory. In practice, they showed their inability to sustain momentum. It’s just one of the reasons they are 41-48, 9 1⁄2 games out of the second wild-card spot and planning for a sell-off of their remaining veteran talent.
Matz was given his leave after allowing hits to the first four batters in the second. The Long Island native was booed off the mound.
By then, the Mets trailed 7-0. Matz fired fastball after fastball over the plate, and the Rockies did not miss, reclaiming the form that made them one of the National League’s biggest surprises in the first half.
It was the shortest start of Matz’s career, and the seven earned runs equaled a career high. After the onslaught, Terry Collins asked pitching coach Dan Warthen to review the video.
“He just said everything’s down the middle,” Collins said. “I don’t care how good your stuff is. You can’t do that in this league.”
Despite throwing only 39 pitches, Matz allowed nine hits, four for extra bases.
Ian Desmond’s two-run single and Trevor Story’s two-run double made it 4-0 in the first inning.
In the second, Matz allowed a three-run homer by Nolan Arenado. Mark Reynolds followed with a single to right, prompting Collins to give Matz the hook. It was the shortest start by a Met since Sean Gilmartin went two-thirds of an inning last September.
After Matz was sidelined late in spring training with an elbow injury, he came off the disabled list and made his first start of the season June 10. He logged at least six innings in his first five starts, posting a 2.12 ERA. But in his last two starts, Matz (2-3, 4.58) has surrendered 12 runs and 16 hits in 5 1⁄3 innings. After being taken out of his previous start, he threw his glove into the bench when he reached the dugout.
“I threw the ball across the plate and they hit it,” said Matz, who regretted shying away from the curveballs and changeups that brought him success earlier this season. “I’m just going to give it 24 hours, I’ll look at video tomorrow, and I’ll try to be better next time.”