Just a day removed from an impressive showing by Zack Wheeler against the defending world champion Boston Red Sox, Steven Matz followed suit with a scoreless performance of his own. The lefty allowed just three hits and one walk over four innings while striking out two in the Mets’ 9-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Matz, who entered his start this afternoon with a 9.64 ERA and 2.14 WHIP between two spring starts, worked around a loud leadoff single from Matt Carpenter by inducing a trio of flyouts to center and right amidst a handful of pickoff throws.
A frequent victim of the stolen base since he first debuted in 2015, Matz didn’t allow a single swipe in his four innings, and has allowed just one to this point in camp.
The lefty ran into trouble in the second inning after losing catcher Matt Wieters to a walk on a changeup away, despite spotting a 2-2 fastball that appeared to be a third strike on the inside corner. Things got hairy when right fielder Yairo Muñoz rolled over the first pitch for an infield hit, setting up a two-on, none-out jam with Kolten Wong ahead in the count 2-1.
Matz escaped unharmed, however, jamming Wong into a 4-6-3 double play on a tough fastball inside before working a three-pitch groundout from designated hitter Andrew Knizner to end the second.
“When stuff starts going sideways out there, maybe you don’t get a call you want or your stuff’s not like you want it, you just gotta forget everything else and focus on what you’ve gotta do next,” Matz said in a dugout interview with the SNY booth. “That’s the biggest thing I learned last year on how to just accomplish out there, and I’m gonna carry that into this season.”
Matz retired six of his final seven hitters, throwing 20 of his 27 pitches for strikes while registering a couple of punchouts. His final two outs of the fourth called for just three pitches – two to Paul Goldschmidt on a popout to short, and one on a weak 4-3 grounder off the bat of Muñoz to end the day. All in all, Matz threw 60 pitches – 40 for strikes – while his fastball sat between 92-94 mph. He sang the praises of new batterymate Wilson Ramos in the same interview:
“He’s been awesome… [We] were really on the same page… I like to work fast and stay right on top of guys and throw a lot of strikes, when you have a catcher that you’re in rhythm with, it’s really helpful.”
Matz also reflected on a less successful, four-run outing against the Red Sox on Tuesday, crediting Ramos with his turnaround in today’s contest:
“We just kinda got together after the outing and sat down during the game. He talked to me about the way I approach guys when I’m ahead in the count. I was leaving balls up in the zone, and he was telling me ‘just throw it on the plate, I’ll block it…’ That was the biggest thing for me, and it was about emphasizing it this outing.”