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Mets take crucial series in Miami behind Matz

July 24, 2016

MIAMI -- The drought has finally come to an end for Steven Matz, and it came at an opportune time for the Mets. The lefty threw six dominant innings and struck out six on Sunday as New York blanked Miami, 3-0, at Marlins Park to take two of three in

MIAMI -- The drought has finally come to an end for Steven Matz, and it came at an opportune time for the Mets. The lefty threw six dominant innings and struck out six on Sunday as New York blanked Miami, 3-0, at Marlins Park to take two of three in the series.
Matz, who ran his fastball up to 94 mph, won for the first time since May 25, and he snapped a string of nine consecutive starts without a victory. The left-hander was 0-5 with a 4.73 ERA during that dry spell. By taking the series, the Mets moved to within a half-game of the Marlins for second place in the National League East and the second Wild Card spot.
"Really encouraging," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Fastball had late life to it. You saw a lot of swings and misses on his fastball. I thought his changeup and his curveball he threw for strikes. … I thought he had a great game."
"Probably the best I've seen [Matz] myself," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I thought his stuff was good. He got his offspeed over, he pitched in a little bit more today. He had a good fastball today."
The lone run the Mets got off Marlins right-hander José Ureña came in the third inning on José Reyes' two-out RBI triple. The slim lead held until the eighth, when the Mets tacked on a pair of runs off Kyle Barraclough. Yoenis Céspedes and James Loney each had RBI singles.

"The two [in the eighth] hurt us," Mattingly said. "If you keep it a one-run game, you get a shot to be able to bunt or put a little more pressure [on them]. That's the inning that kind of gets us."
Jeurys Familia notched his 51st consecutive save dating to Aug. 1, 2015. He's now tied for the third-longest streak in MLB history with Jose Valverde, who converted 51 straight saves from 2010-11. Familia's 35 saves lead all Major League closers.

Welcome back, Matz: Matz's pitch execution looked far better Sunday than it did in his last start in Chicago. The left-hander needed 99 pitches, and the only jam he found himself in was with Giancarlo Stanton at the dish with first and third and two outs in the fifth. On a 2-0 pitch, Matz flipped up a curveball that jammed Stanton and resulted in a groundout to Asdrúbal Cabrera.
"I just didn't want to miss fat," Matz said. "I didn't want to make a mistake where he could extend his hands and hit the ball out of the ballpark with two runners on there. With 2-0, Rene [Rivera] called a curveball. I just kind of threw it up there and it was a fastball count. It wasn't a bad miss. I was able to get him to ground out." More >

Spot start not spotty: If Sunday is any indication, Urena promises to be an interesting pitching candidate for Miami. The 24-year-old, used in relief at the start of the season, made his second straight spot start, and it was strong. Urena allowed one run in six innings, struck out four and didn't walk a batter. The right-hander threw 86 pitches, with 51 for strikes. However, there was a medical concern for Urena. After he struck out swinging in the fifth inning, Urena talked with trainer Dustin Luepker in the dugout. In the sixth, after Cespedes smoked a long foul ball, Urena was checked out on the mound by Mattingly and Luepker. Urena stayed in, and his next pitch was a 97-mph fastball. He got through the inning.
Urena said he was suffering from a mild cramp on his left side, and it isn't serious. He credits his improvement to tinkering with his mechanics at Triple-A New Orleans before he was called back up.
"I've been working on trying to get the ball down in the zone and being aggressive with those hitters," Urena said. "[I'm] using my two-seamer a lot." More >

Triple threat: Reyes said Friday he was hoping for more consistent contact from the left side, and in his second at-bat Sunday he blistered a 2-1 Urena fastball to left-center for an RBI triple to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Reyes, who notched his franchise-leading 100th triple as a Met on Tuesday against the Cubs, collected his second three-bagger of the year. The 33-year-old's 119 career triples rank second among active players behind only Carl Crawford's 123.
"He's gonna do that a lot. I'm telling you, this guy's gonna help us," Collins said. "He starts to get 150 at-bats and you're gonna see a dynamic leadoff hitter in our lineup."

Center field no problem for Conforto: After playing the final three innings in center field Saturday, Michael Conforto received his first career start at the position in the series finale and was tested immediately. Miguel Rojas led off the first inning with a sinking liner toward right-center, and Conforto hustled over to make a fantastic diving catch. The Mets plan to continue starting Conforto in center field against right-handed pitching. More >

"We have the Phillies [coming in on Monday], and I feel like we're in a really good position. This loss today is not going to determine what is going to happen later." -- Rojas
"They're all big right now. I said coming out of the break that this was crunch time for us. We knew we had the Cubs and the Marlins. We couldn't lose any more ground. We've gotta hang in there until we start to get healthier and get clicking offensively. This was a big series for us to win." -- Collins
One of the more athletic plays you'll see led to an overturned call, which took a run off the board for the Mets in the eighth inning. Cabrera bounced to first with the bases loaded and one out. Rojas made a diving, backhanded stop and from the ground threw home. The toss pulled catcher J.T. Realmuto toward the first-base dugout, and home-plate umpire Toby Basner ruled Realmuto's foot came off the plate before he made the catch. Miami challenged, and the call was overturned to keep it a 3-0 game.

Mets: New York travels back to Citi Field for the opener of a three-game set with the Cardinals on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Noah Syndergaard (9-4, 2.43 ERA) will take the ball hoping to build on a solid first start since experiencing arm fatigue on July 8.
Marlins: The Marlins open a three-game series with the Phillies on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Jarred Cosart (0-1, 7.98 ERA) is returning from Triple-A New Orleans and will get the nod in the series opener, with Wei-Yin Chen landing on the disabled list due to a sprained left elbow. More >
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Patrick Pinak is a reporter for and covered the Mets on Sunday.