Matz's steady outing helps boost Mets
Southpaw proud to advance to World Series with childhood team
CHICAGO -- A night like this had been building for years for Steven Matz, the most inexperienced in the Mets' burgeoning young rotation of uber-arms.
The Mets' 8-3 win to sweep the National League Championship Series was just his eighth Major League start, but the moment had been generating steam since 1991, when he was born in Stony Brook, N.Y. The possibility grew in 2009, when he was Drafted by his beloved New York Mets in the first round of the MLB Draft. And then in late June this year, when he debuted to great fanfare as the team's top prospect.
There will be, if all goes well, plenty more starts for Matz. But none, to this point in his career, have been bigger than the NL pennant clincher he started Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.
"It's surreal. Just so much fun," said Matz, who had his parents, girlfriend and some other family friends in the stands in Chicago. "I remember rooting for them in 2000 and 2006. To be here, however many years later, it's unbelievable."
Thanks in part to Matz's 24-year-old left arm, the 2015 Mets are following in the footsteps of four other teams in franchise history, including that 2000 club. The last team to secure a World Series title was the 1986 club, and the '73 and '69 Mets (who coined the nickname Miracle Mets with their World Series run) also won pennants.
Matz went 4 2/3 innings -- one out shy of officially earning his first postseason win -- limiting the Cubs to one run on four hits before Terry Collins pulled him with two men on in the fifth inning.
Beyond that, the only other trouble Matz encountered was in the fourth, when Jorge Soler led off with a double, Kris Bryant walked and Anthony Rizzo singled to load the bases. With a serious Cubs rally mounting, Starlin Castro ripped a 107 mph line drive directly at third baseman David Wright who made a leaping catch to save at least a couple runs.
"That ball was hit extremely hard," Wright said. "My first instinct was I thought it might have broke my finger. I thought it was going to drag me into left field. That ball was absolutely scorched. It was just lucky it was somewhere near me, because if that ball is a foot higher, that's a three-run double and who knows where we're at right now."
In the end, Matz joined Philadelphia's Marty Bystrom (1980) and Seattle's Bob Wolcott (1995) as the only pitchers to start as few as six games before starting a Championship Series game.
So after going 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in the regular season and getting starts in both the Division and Championship Series, Matz could very well take the mound for his childhood team with the opportunity to bring home the franchise's first World Series title in nearly 30 years.
"These are the days you dream of right here," Matz said. "These are the days you draw up in your head when you're playing Wiffle ball with your buddies in your backyard."