PHILADELPHIA -- Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz displayed more than just his arm against the Phillies during Tuesday night's 5-2 Mets loss at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, even with five scoreless innings that lowered his ERA to 2.29 over his six most recent starts, it was his glove and
PHILADELPHIA -- Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz displayed more than just his arm against the Phillies during Tuesday night's 5-2 Mets loss at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, even with five scoreless innings that lowered his ERA to 2.29 over his six most recent starts, it was his glove and his bat that made the best impression.
"He's a great athlete," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "Strong kid. He kind of put it on display tonight."
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While New York couldn't get much off Phillies ace Aaron Nola its first time through the batting order -- just a lone infield hit accompanied five strikeouts -- Matz took it upon himself to turn things around. He slugged a home run just over the top of Rhys Hoskins' glove and the left-field wall to give the Mets a 1-0 lead in the third inning, then started a highlight double play to end his night with some flash in the fifth.
Matz, a career .093 hitter entering Tuesday, has suddenly found a power stroke. The home run off Nola marked his second career homer. His first? That came during his last start, off Marlins' rookie Sandy Alcantara. The only previous Mets pitchers to homer in consecutive appearances were Tom Seaver in 1972 and Ron Darling in '89.
"I don't really know," Matz said of what's been working for him at the plate. "I've got no explanation for you there."
The solo shot came on Nola's signature pitch, a 78.5-mph curveball, and traveled a projected distance of 362 feet, according to Statcast™. Conveniently, it was also another chip in Nola's Cy Young Award hopes, as the right-hander is competing with Matz's rotation mate, Jacob deGrom, for the honor. Nola's ERA rose from 2.42 to 2.44 because of his two earned runs allowed Tuesday.
"I told [deGrom], 'That was for my friend there,'" Matz said.
Later, with Hoskins on first base and one out in the fifth, Phillies center fielder Roman Quinn ripped a liner back at Matz, who instinctively fell to the ground to avoid getting drilled. In the process, Matz somehow caught the ball behind his legs and threw from his knees to easily double up Hoskins at first base.
"I've been working on that in BPs," Matz joked. "It's just one of those things you react to. There was not much thinking going on."
Joe Bloss is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.