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More road woes for Matz; Mets' slide continues

@AnthonyDiComo
September 17, 2019

DENVER -- One minute, Steven Matz was standing on the mound with a two-run lead and some optimism that he could preserve it. The next, he was walking toward the dugout as another victim of Coors Field. It’s not just Coors that has vexed Matz, who boasts one of MLB’s

DENVER -- One minute, Steven Matz was standing on the mound with a two-run lead and some optimism that he could preserve it. The next, he was walking toward the dugout as another victim of Coors Field.

It’s not just Coors that has vexed Matz, who boasts one of MLB’s most extreme home-road splits. But it was Coors that bit him Monday, when Matz allowed six runs in the fourth inning of a 9-4 loss to the Rockies that took another sizeable chunk out of New York’s playoff chances. Combined with the Cubs’ win over the Reds, the Mets’ loss pushed them five games back of the second National League Wild Card spot with only 12 to play.

Box score

“We can’t really think about that too much,” Matz said. “We’re just going to keep our focus. We’ve been in holes this season before. We’ve just got to go and play our best baseball, and let the rest of the numbers and the standings take care of themselves."

Among the most curious of those numbers are Matz’s home-road splits. The left-hander is 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA at Citi Field this season, but 3-8 with a 6.62 mark away from home.

“There’s really no rhyme or reason to it,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “Today, it was just the pitcher got a hit. It’s unexplainable sometimes.”

That Antonio Senzatela single may not have been the most significant blow against Matz, but it was the reason why the Rockies extended their best rally so effectively. Matz started off well enough, retiring the first five batters he faced before giving up an Ian Desmond solo homer.

But with two outs and two runners on base in the fourth, Matz allowed a Garrett Hampson RBI single, a walk, then a two-run hit to Senzatela. The next batter, Trevor Story, hit a three-run homer, and the Rockies never trailed again.

“I had him 1-2 and I just left the ball out over the plate,” Matz said of Senzatela’s single. “There are so many things I could have done in that situation. I was ahead of him. I gave him a pitch to hit, and I gave him a chance. I really wish I could have that one back.”

Senzatela allowed four runs -- including homers to Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil -- in six innings. It wasn’t a quality start, but it may as well qualify as one at Coors Field, where the ball has been flying regularly for a quarter-century and counting.

In a vacuum, it would have been easy to attribute Matz’s struggles to Coors alone, but his game log is littered with similar starts elsewhere -- eight runs allowed in a start in Philadelphia, five in Phoenix, five more in Atlanta, seven more in a return to Philly. Only four times in 15 road outings has Matz delivered a quality start, vs. 10 out of 13 at Citi Field.

Matz, like Callaway, indicated that luck might be the primary factor. He referenced “three really bad starts … including this one” that have skewed his statistics, and he -- like Callaway -- could not offer much of a reason for why.

The routine is the same. The pitch mix is the same. The results are simply wildly different.

“I’m not really sure,” Matz said. “I like pitching at Citi Field. I feel comfortable there. But I’ve had a few really bad starts on the road, and that probably boosts that number a bit.”

Sun Bear OK

The Mets received a scare in the eighth, when J.D. Davis crumpled to the ground after making a running catch and crashing into the turf. Davis grabbed at his midsection, but he eventually righted himself and, following a lengthy conversation with trainer Brian Chicklo, remained in the game.

Davis said afterward that he mostly lost his breath on the play, though his rib cage was a bit sore as well. His greater surprise occurred when teammate Pete Alonso came jogging over all the way from first base to check on him.

“I asked him, ‘What are you doing out here?’ Davis recalled. “He said, ‘I’ve got to check out the Sun Bear.’ I said, ‘You’re ridiculous. Go back to first.’”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.