What, you expected the Mets to run the table against the Cubs?
After winning four straight in the NLCS and four in a series at Citi Field prior to the break, the Cubs were due and Steven Matz wasn’t good enough to prevent Monday’s 5-1 loss at Wrigley Field.
Matz threw 102 pitches in five innings, of which 26 were foul balls. That says he wasn’t able to put away hitters. Part of it is bone-spur related, and that will continue to be the case until he has surgery.
Matz said he didn’t feel any pain and wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
“I don’t think I had my best command,” Matz said, especially of his breaking pitches. With that, you have to wonder how much of it is the elbow. Matz was done in on a three-run homer to Anthony Rizzo when he hung a change-up over the middle of the plate.
“I don’t think it was a bad pitch [selection],” Matz said of the pitch to Rizzo. “It was poor execution.”
When Matz was missing, it wasn’t outside where he wanted, but over the plate.
“You have to make them chase a little bit,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “I didn’t think he had his Grade A stuff. Hopefully, he’ll good after this.”
Collins wouldn’t say if Matz was hurting, but acknowledged he didn’t have it Monday.
“There are going to be times when he pitches through discomfort,” Collins said. “Other times he’s going to feel good.”
Matz’s performance reflected the uncertainty of what the Mets can expect from him in the second half. In his previous two starts, Matz worked seven innings in each and gave up a combined five runs.
Matz has hammered in his first start this year, reeled off seven straight victories, and has now lost five straight.
There’s been a lot of speculation as to what the Mets might do at the trade deadline. Bullpen? Yeah, that’s needed. Another bat, preferably one who can hit with runners in scoring position? Definitely.
However, with Matt Harvey gone for the year – he had surgery Monday – and the heads-or-tails prognosis of Matz and Tuesday’s starter Noah Syndergaard, adding another arm to the rotation could be their biggest need.
With the loss, coupled with Miami’s victory in Philadelphia, the Mets fell 6.5 games behind Washington in the NL East and trail Los Angeles and the Marlins for the wild-card.
Monday’s other two story lines are:
THE OUTFIELD DILEMMA: As expected, Yoenis Cespedes played left field, which means he came out of Sunday’s game with no problems. That’s the good news.
Cespedes was hitless in three at-bats against Jon Lester, but nobody could time him. Cespedes threw out a runner out at the plate and almost nailed another at second base.
Prior to the game Collins anticipated playing Cespedes in center Tuesday with Michael Conforto in left. However, after the game Collins said he didn’t think Cespedes moved well.
Conforto appeared as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and delivered an opposite-field single.
That was a terrific sign because prior to the game he admitted being pull-happy in May and June when his average nose-dived.
Collins said he wants to use Cespedes in left to save his legs. He also said Conforto could get time in center, where he’s never played.
I wrote in spring training how I wanted to see Conforto get some time in center, but that never happened. Instead, they might do it during a pennant race, even though Curtis Granderson has played over 1,000 games in center.
Then again, at 35, Granderson’s legs aren’t what they used to be.
It was Flores’ ninth homer of the year and sixth in July to lead the National League. Yet, manager Terry Collins still doesn’t have a sense of urgency to get his bat in his offensively starved lineup.
That way, they all play and all get a game off a week.
Why is that so hard to understand?