Mets Game 77: Win Over Reds
Matz 4 (+3 from other folks), Reds 2
Mets’ fans do deserve days like this. I’ll get to his hitting exploits later, but we need to start with Steven Matz’s pitching, which is why we all tuned in. This was the first time I’d seen the guy pitch.
After sailing his first pitch up and away, his fifth pitch was a fastball down the pipe that Brandon Phillips hit for a homer. But despite the first inning lasting more than 20 pitches, Steven Matz was already showing he had three plus pitches. Wally was right, this guy is seriously good.
Joey Votto had particular problems with Matz’s curve, watching it curl in at 78 mph in the first and looking daft swinging at it in the third. Matz then polished him off with a fastball on the outside corner. He also made Todd Frazier look human in the sixth with a nasty curve to strike him out… perhaps Matz was pissed that Frazier took him deep in the fourth off a half-decent pitch.
Matz’s curve darts down and to the right, tying up righties and getting whiffs from lefties. Votto’s issues were because the pitch sometimes started at him yet still made the inside corner. Matz threw one as slow as 74mph in the seventh, a knee-buckler when you’re gearing up for his heater.
Ol’ Concerned Potato Head (a.k.a. Terry Collins) decided to keep Matz in the game for 7 2/3 innings, despite hurling 100 pitches after seven. Ok, Matz was still hitting 96mph in the eighth, and I know 100 pitches is an arbitrary number but Matz had spent so much time on the basepaths. Pitch Jack Leathersich, for criminy’s sake… they must have known he’d be sent down anyway.
Matz’s fastball has a very slight cut left to right, and he mostly hit corners low and inside to righties. Nice comeback on Billy Hamilton (yeah, I know, hardly a Silver Slugger) to get from 3-0 to get him to pop out with a runner on second.
Throughout, Matz seemed unfazed. He looks like Rory McIlroy’s older, taller brother. He has a thick, strong neck and an easy throwing action. But I’m sure Joe will break down his delivery more technically, and for everyone gushing about the potential 2016 rotation (Harvey – DeGrom – Matz – Wheeler – Syndergaard) I’m still against dealing Niese yet. Just shove him in the bullpen as a leftie and as (albeit 4+ ERA and an injury waiting to happen) rotation protection.
Lastly, Matz’s change-up tails slightly from right to left, a great counterpoint to his other two pitches. Like Frazier, he got revenge on Phillips by making him look silly on a few changes, and one tweaked Phillips’ wrist injury. Phillips ended up popping out and striking out to Matz’s change.
Ok, hitting. Curtis Granderson continues to rake. You know I wear my little Grandyman t-shirt and have CG pom-poms whenever he comes to bat, so it’s nice to see him hit. Four out of his five at bats were hard hit and he drove in a couple of runs. His OPS is now .824. Will it stay there? Even I have to admit: “no chance.” Granderson is one of the most annoyingly streaky batters in MLB. But let’s enjoy the run while it lasts, especially as guys like Wilmer and Cruddyer continue to struggle. It’s actually painful to watch poor Wilmer fall over the plate every time he swings at a pitch outside. At least he’s back at second base now, where he belongs. That might help him relax.
Luckily, for a team needing 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 hitters there was a new slugger in town. I won’t bore you with all the records, but the most startling one was that Matz’s four RBIs were more than ANY Mets’ player on debut. And the two RBI hits – one crushed to the centre field warning track and the other a nice liner over Phillips’ head – weren’t cheapies. Like Syndergaard he’s got a nice eye at the plate. Let’s hope he takes Wilmer and Juan to one side and talks about plate discipline.
I don’t know how much to read into sweeping the Reds. Their infield defense was so lousy it made the Mets look tolerable. It was certainly needed, given the hideous upcoming schedule of the Cubs, Dodgers and Giants. And the first 10 games after the All Star Break? The Cards for three, the Nats for three, and the Dodgers for four. How wonderful. Given the Cubs are at home, the Mets need another sweep because they can’t beat the best teams and they’ve been lousy on the road.
I’ve been thinking about the Mets’ ludicrous home (29-11) and away (11-26) splits. And now I have the answer. I reckon it would cost less than a million bucks and provide a lot more wins than John Mayberry Jr….
Clearly the Mets miss CitiField and their home clubhouse. So I say: “take the clubhouse with you with the MetsMobile.”
The MetsMobile is an exact replica of the CitiField clubhouse attached to a winnebago. On shorter trips the Mets can travel to games in it, and on longer trips it can pick them up from the airport. Rehabbing pitchers can drive it to build arm strength. Failing that, it will keep Mayberry Jr. busy.
The smell of Nathan’s Famous, Keith’s Grill and stale beer can be gently pumped inside, along with faraway sounds of “Let’s Go Mets” and low flying aircraft. It really cannot fail.
So Let’s Go Matz. Um, Mets. And keep your fingers crossed that the upcoming teams are so devastated by illness that the Mets have to face the ground crew. If that happens, they should go .500 and still be in the hunt for a wildcard. Ever the optimist, I still have faith. Now I just need to catch the measles and travel to L.A.