Matz gets 1st complete game, Mets blank sinking Pirates 3-0
NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in his five-year career, Steven Matz needed no help from the bullpen.
Matz pitched an efficient five-hitter for his first complete game in 90 major league starts, and the New York Mets got home runs from Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis in a 3-0 victory Saturday night over the sinking Pittsburgh Pirates.
“It’s really cool. Honestly, this is what I try to do every game, so I finally did it,” Matz said with a grin.
Matz (6-6) struck out seven and walked none, throwing just 99 pitches in his first win since June 8 against Colorado. The left-hander, making his third start since a brief stint in the bullpen, handed the last-place Pirates their seventh straight loss and 13th in 15 games since the All-Star break.
“To do it in 99 pitches is something else. That doesn’t happen too often,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “That was tremendous. That was unbelievable. We really needed him to do that.”
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle was only around for the first three batters of a swift contest that took 2 hours, 10 minutes. Hurdle got ejected by plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt after Starling Marte was called out on strikes to end the top of the first inning.
It appeared Hurdle came onto the field to escort Marte away and make sure he didn’t get tossed. But when the skipper said something to Wendelstedt from a distance, it was Hurdle who was given the thumb.
“I just felt that two of our first three hitters in the game got clipped on called third strikes. I wanted to stop a trend. That was basically it,” Hurdle said. “I thought both guys got punched out on strikes that weren’t strikes.”
Pirates starter Trevor Williams (3-4) went seven innings and held the Mets hitless until Davis doubled off the right-center wall with two outs in the fifth.
Conforto sent a changeup into the second deck in right field for a solo shot in the sixth. Davis added a two-run drive to center in the seventh after Pittsburgh shortstop Jung Ho Kang let Todd Frazier’s popup drop for a gift single.
“Unfortunately for us, I was the one that blinked first,” Williams said.
Matz went right at the slumping Pirates, throwing 67 strikes before a lively crowd of 39,944. He was aided by two timely double plays, including when New York went around the horn on Melky Cabrera with runners at the corners to end the sixth.
Three innings later, Matz pounded his pitching hand into his glove after retiring All-Star slugger Josh Bell on a routine grounder for the final out.
“They were really aggressive and my sinker and slider were a pretty good combo today to get some quick outs,” Matz said. “The changeup got me back in some counts. So I just think, really mixed everything. The guys were making great plays behind me. Wilson (Ramos) called a great game. It was just a recipe.”
The fourth-place Mets (49-55) have won three in a row and are 9-5 since the All-Star break.
“Let’s be as scrappy as we can and try to claw our way back into this thing,” Callaway said.
Pittsburgh also lost seven in a row from June 7-13.
Mets leadoff man Jeff McNeil and his wife, Tatiana, indeed adopted that rescued puppy he wanted after it was brought to Citi Field by the North Shore Animal League on Friday. After holding the pup for the first time, the All-Star outfielder figured his three-run homer hours later would give him all the bargaining power he needed. So the couple visited the puppy Saturday as planned. “Once she picked her up, it was game over,” McNeil said.
START ME UP
Matz is 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA at home this year. ... Mets starters are 8-2 with a 2.50 ERA since the All-Star break.
Pirates: LF Corey Dickerson sat out after leaving Friday night’s game with left groin discomfort. He took indoor swings in the afternoon and hoped to be available off the bench. Cabrera started in left. ... LHP Steven Brault (shoulder strain) threw a bullpen.
Mets: LF Dominic Smith went on the 10-day injured list with a stress reaction in his left foot, and it’s unclear how long he’ll be out. Davis started in left field, and New York selected the contract of OF Aaron Altherr from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Callaway was “pretty confident” closer Edwin Díaz would be available if needed. Díaz was held out as a precaution Friday night while nursing a sore left big toe. He was hit in the foot by a line drive Thursday. “It’s good to get him another day,” Callaway said. ... OF Brandon Nimmo (neck) has been ramping up baseball activities but is still a while from playing in a game, Callaway said. Nimmo has been sidelined since May 21.
Pirates: RHP Chris Archer (3-7, 5.40 ERA) pitches the series finale Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 5.65 ERA in his last eight starts, and 0-3 in eight outings on the road this season.
Mets: LHP Jason Vargas (5-5, 3.96), perhaps an under-the-radar trade candidate as Wednesday’s deadline approaches, has a 1.83 ERA in seven starts at home this season. He allowed only one hit in six shutout innings with eight strikeouts to beat San Diego on Tuesday.