NEW YORK | Steven Matz did his best to convince New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway that the team’s top three starters are now a fab four.
Matz struck out 10, tied a career-high by throwing 120 pitches and earned the win as the Mets beat the Colorado Rockies, 5-3.
“He’s been a big part of a big four, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Callaway said. “And I think he can keep the big four intact.”
Matz has been accompanied by high expectations since he was selected by the Mets in the second round of the 2009 draft. But he didn’t pitch professionally until 2012 due to Tommy John surgery and has endured five trips to the injured list due to arm injuries over the last three seasons, during which Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler have emerged as New York’s most durable starters. That trio has combined to throw at least 110 pitchers seven times this season.
Matz, though, has been the Mets’ most consistent starter. He has allowed two runs or fewer seven times in nine starts, a stretch that included an IL stint due to nerve irritation in his left forearm.
Matz might have made his final step into the Mets’ inner circle Saturday, when he allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out 10, one shy of his career-high set against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 1.
Matz, who hadn’t thrown more than 104 pitches in his first 11 starts, reached 120 pitches for the first time since Aug. 9, 2016, against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“A little bit of old school, 120 pitches in six,” said Rockies manager Bud Black, who pitched in the majors from 1981 through 1995.
Matz had just two 1-2-3 innings Saturday, but stranded seven runners, including four in scoring position. He ended his night by striking out Rockies leadoff batter Charlie Blackmon to strand two.
“I felt really good tonight,” Matz said. “I want to just keep going out there and have a high pitch count. I think that’s cool. That’s what starting pitchers want to do, is be really durable.”
Amed Rosario put Matz in line to earn the win in the bottom of the sixth when he hit into a run-scoring double play to snap a 3-3 tie. Rookie sensation Pete Alonso led off the seventh with his 21st home run — it came with some drama, too.
Alonso’s soaring drive was just beyond the glove of left fielder David Dahl and off the orange line atop the fence. The ball bounced back onto the field, Alonso kept running and he slid into third.
But an umpire crew review showed it was indeed a home run. Alonso moved within five of matching Darryl Strawberry’s rookie record.
“I saw it off the bat, that ball’s really up there,” Alonso said. “I just kept running and then I finally got the call from the umpire, home run. It was like ‘Whoa! That was sick!'”
Seth Lugo retired all six batters he faced and Edwin Diaz notched his 14th save with a one-hit ninth.
Carlos Gomez put the Mets ahead with a two-run homer in the second and Todd Frazier had an RBI single in the third.
The Rockies tied the game twice. In the second, Blackmon and Nolan Arenado delivered RBI singles. In the fourth, Brendan Rodgers singled with one out, went to third on Tony Wolters’ single and scored when Frazier’s throw to second to try to get Wolters sailed into right field.
Jon Gray (5-5) allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out eight over 5 2/3 innings.
FRIDAY NIGHT CARRY-OVER?
The second inning contained a pair of curious moments that may or may not have been carryover from Friday night’s eighth-inning fireworks, when the benches emptied twice but no punches were thrown after Mets RHP Drew Gagnon plunked Rockies CF Ian Desmond in the back immediately after Daniel Murphy hit a two-run homer.
In the top of the second, Matz brushed back Murphy with a pitch so high and inside that Murphy’s helmet fell off as he backpedaled about halfway to first base. Murphy is hitting .376 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs against the Mets since he left his former club.
Gray’s first pitch in the bottom half of the frame was a 78 mph curveball that hit Frazier in the shoulder. Frazier jogged to first base without incident.
Rockies: Blackmon (right calf), who was activated from the 10-day IL Friday but did not play, went 1 for 4 in his first appearance since May 23.
Mets: 2B Robinson Cano (left quad) missed a third straight game but the Mets remain hopeful he can avoid the IL for the second time this season. Cano was sidelined from May 23 through Tuesday and aggravated the injury following his second at-bat Wednesday. . LHP Justin Wilson (left elbow) felt good during a 20-pitch batting practice session and is expected to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday.
Rockies: RHP Jeff Hoffman (1-2, 7.29 ERA) will make his second career start in his home state. Hoffman was born and raised in Latham, New York, near Albany. He tossed six innings and earned the win over the Mets in the Rockies’ 13-4 victory on July 16, 2017.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (3-4, 4.83 ERA) will make his 100th career start. Syndergaard has allowed fewer than three runs just four times in 13 starts this year.