Mets LHP Steven Matz was rolling after a shaky first inning, but when manager Mickey Callaway decided to pull the plug on his night, he wasn't happy.
Matz, who was looking to build on his win over the Brewers last time out, didn't get off to a hot start Wednesday night. He gave up a three-run jack to Ryan Zimmerman in the first inning to give the Nats a quick 3-0 lead. The long ball has hurt him in his first three starts, as Zimmerman's blast was his fifth homer allowed over four starts.
The young lefty didn't let the first inning get to him, though. After striking out Michael Taylor in the first before picking off Moises Sierra to end the inning, Matz set down 10 straight Nationals as he cruised through the second, third, and fourth innings.
However, after 74 pitches and an opportunity for the Mets to get something going on offense, Callaway had Brandon Nimmo pinch hit for Matz, ending his night. Matz slammed his bat back into its slot in the dugout, showing his frustration toward the decision. But Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland talked to him on the bench afterward to explain their decision.
"I was kind of in a groove, but he's gotta do what he's gotta do to try and win the game," Matz said. "I understand now, but in the moment I'm not very happy."
Callaway didn't mind the "fire" Matz had when he took him out of the game because it meant he wanted to stay out on the bump to help his team. But he admitted the 33-pitch first inning was the reason for the early exit.
Mickey Callaway on pinch hitting for Steven Matz: "He wasn't happy. And I'm glad he wasn't happy. I don't ever want those guys to be happy when I take them out of the game." pic.twitter.com/vDXQu0YrBq- SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) April 19, 2018
"He wasn't happy, and I'm glad he wasn't happy," Callaway said. "I don't ever want those guys happy when I take them out of the game, because that means they have fire and they want to go back out there. … It was very hard, but I thought it was necessary at the time, just the way our bats were going at the time."
Eiland said before the game that Matz is successful when he attacks the strike zone, and doesn't dance around the plate with his pitches. Callaway felt he did that Wednesday night.
"I'm so excited about the way he settled in, and was attacking hitters. He's gonna have a lot of success when he does that. … He ended up pitching a really good game, and he would've continued pitching a good game had we not taken him out."
Matz ended his outing with three earned runs on three hits while striking out six and walking one over four innings.