MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Mets

Game recap August 14: The man from Long Island, still striving for perfection


Steven Matz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against a punchless Padres lineup as the Mets moved back over .500 with a 5-1 victory on Sunday.


Although Sunday’s start would prove to be arguably the finest of Matz’s young career, the game began inauspiciously for the lefty. On a brutally hot day in Queens, with the sun still near its noontime peak, Matz started San Diego’s leadoff hitter, Travis Jankowski, with a strike before tossing four straight balls for a foreboding first batter walk.

Although Matz struck out Wil Myers on a 3-2 count, a clumsy pickoff attempt on a Jankowski steal caused a balk and allowed the speedy centerfielder to advance to second base. With Yangervis Solarte batting, Jankowski tried to swipe third. Although he was called out on the play, video evidence seemed to indicate that T.J. Rivera had failed to get the tag down, and the Padres challenged the play. As the umpires waited for the verdict, it seemed as though the Padres would have a runner on third, and their two best hitters – Solarte and Alex Dickerson – would have cracks at advance him home.

However, the proof didn’t seem strong enough to overturn the call, and Matz found himself with the bases empty and two outs. He finished off Solarte, striking him out on a beautiful curveball, and didn’t look back. Matz rolled through the Padres’ lineup, setting batters down in order in five of the six subsequent innings, with his only further blemish through his first seven frames coming on a walk to Derek Norris. Matz had great stuff, with his fastball averaging 95-96 mph, up from its usual 94-95. The lefty also went to the curveball for 29 of his 105 pitches, nearly twice as often as he usually throws it. Matz turned to the pitch to finish off a few of his eight strikeouts and used it dozens more times to set up hard two-strike fastballs that inevitably would be met with swings and misses.


The Mets didn’t have the same issues against Clayton Richard as the Padres did against Matz. Richard, who entered the game with a well below average 5.68 DRA, set down the first three Mets batters fairly easily in the first inning before allowing a home run to Wilmer Flores in the second. Wilmer worked a great at-bat, letting three balls and two borderline strikes go by for a full count. He then got his pitch, launching a ball into the left field seats for his 12th home run of the season to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Neil Walker followed two innings later with his 21st home run of the season. Something seems to have clicked around late July for Walker, as he’s hitting .456/.493/.691 in 73 PA since July 27 after a relatively slow start to the season. Walker is making more contact, striking out in just 8% of those 73 PAs instead of the 20% clip at which he had struck out in 358 PAs to that point. He’s improved his line drive rate immensely, and has also focused less on pulling the ball, hitting nearly half of the pitches he makes contact with up the middle since that July 27 game in which he collected three hits against the Cubs.


The game held at 2-0 through the seventh inning, as did the Padres’ box score line of 0 runs, 0 hits, and 1 error. After Jabari Blash struck out swinging, Matz made his first (and only) mistake of the game:

Alexei Ramirez smashed a fastball that Matz left up down the first base line for the Padres’ first hit of the game. With Matz at 105 pitches – his fourth-highest tally of the season – Terry Collins went to the bullpen to put in Addison Reed, who allowed a two-out single to Ryan Schimpf but struck out Brett Wallace to end the inning.

The Mets notched three more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, partially due to some wild throwing by catcher Derek Norris that allowed Jose Reyes to swipe second base and advance to third and by pitcher Jose Dominguez that allowed Reyes to come home. Rivera later doubled in Ty Kelly and Jay Bruce to put the Mets up by 5.

These runs proved unnecessary but helpful in allowing the Mets to rest Jeurys Familia, who had pitched the previous day. Gabriel Ynoa, pitching in just the second game of his career, allowed a base hit to Wil Myers and an RBI single to Solarte, but closed out the game with just the one run allowed as the Mets took the 5-1 victory.


-Matz’s one-hit performance was the best of his career by Game Score, as the 86 tally that he notched on Sunday beat 7.2 inning, 2-hit performance on May 4 of this year.
-The Mets will begin a 10-game road trip tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 9:40 p.m. Bartolo Colon will pitch against Robbie Ray.

Photo credit: Andy Marlin – USA Today Sports

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