Things you should know about tonight's game...
1) Steven Matz pitched two hitless innings before unraveling in the third and fourth when he was charged with seven runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks. Betrayed by poor defense behind him as well as his own error, the Cardinals scored three times in the third and four more in the fourth. Matz (1-2) was removed after walking Dexter Fowler to force in a run on his 88th pitch.
2) Corey Oswalt made his Major League debut in relief of Matz in the fourth and allowed two runs on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. He allowed two inherited runners to score in the fourth and surrendered a two-run homer to Jedd Gyorko in the fifth.
3) New York committed a season-high three errors, all of which led directly to runs.
4) Jay Bruce had an RBI single in the third to account for the Mets' only run.
Postgame reaction from Michael Avallone...
The enigma that is Steven Matz took another dip Wednesday night, and it's becoming more and more of a concern as the back-end of the Mets' rotation continues to struggle. Unlike Matt Harvey, whose once dominating stuff has been significantly reduced due to a number of severe injuries, Matz still has full command and possession of stuff that should lend itself to success. There's no denying the injury history has retarded his development but with 45 career starts under his belt, including three postseason starts, I expected more. That obviously hasn't been the case.
To ignore his injury history would be foolish, but Matz's problems begin and end in between his ears. He has enough giddy up on his fastball, enough bite to his curve and a decent enough change to be a solid No. 3 starter. Recovering from injuries in a physical sense is one thing, but doing so mentally can be hard to quantify. The 27-year-old has been prone to losing focus when things go against him on the mound, but Matz seems to have lost complete confidence in his stuff now as well. He doesn't throw any of his pitches with conviction, he nibbles and he lets innings get away from him in the blink of an eye. If this happened on occasion, it could be chalked up to immaturity, but this is happening with regularity now with Matz, and it's extremely frustrating to watch.
Much can be overblown, good and bad, in the first month of a baseball season. And while the first three weeks have been kind to the Mets in the won-loss department, a glaring problem is starting to emerge and it begins and ends at the back of the rotation. Three-fifths of what was supposed to be a once-in-a-generation pitching staff have had their careers derailed. It's not too late for any of them ... not by a long shot. But in the case of Matz, he must somehow find the confidence and trust in himself to succeed, or he'll be another in a long line of pitchers who have the stuff to dominate yet lack the fortitude needed to do so.
Highlights from last night's game...
News and notes...
The Mets fell to 2-3 on what has now become a nine-game road trip. They finish their series with St. Louis on Thursday before heading to San Diego for a weekend set at Petco Park.
Matz has totaled 21 2/3 innings in five starts this season and has pitched past the fourth inning twice. The southpaw has one win and a 7.19 ERA in his last 15 starts dating back to July 3, 2017.
Michael Conforto singled to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 17 games. His streak of consecutive games with at least one walk ended at eight.
Bruce was 1-for-32 (.031) in his career against Michael Wacha before his RBI single in the third.
Wilmer Flores started at second base in place of Asdrubal Cabrera who is dealing with a tight hamstring.
The Mets (15-7) conclude their season series with the Cardinals (14-9) in the rubber match at Busch Stadium on Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. on SNY.
Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 3.29 ERA, 39 Ks, 1.06 WHIP) is coming off his second consecutive no-decision after he was unable to hold a 3-1 lead during last Friday's extra-inning win over Atlanta. Syndergaard has not pitched past the sixth through his first five starts The right-hander allowed four runs -- including two homers -- with 10 strikeouts in six innings to defeat the Cardinals on Opening Day. Syndergaard is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA in three career starts against St. Louis.
Carlos Martinez (2-1, 1.42 ERA, 37 Ks, 1.14 WHIP) looks to continue his run of excellent starts. Since allowing five runs in 4 1/3 innings against Syndergaard and the Mets on Opening Day, Martinez has yielded one run in his last 27 1/3 frames spanning three starts. He carries an 18-inning scoreless streak into Thursday's start. Martinez is 3-3 with a 3.08 ERA in nine career appearances -- six starts -- against New York.