That was the good news. The bad? The Mets lost yet again, by a 2-0 score.
It was their fifth straight loss, their eighth defeat in the past 10 games and the third time they have been shut out in four games. Their 11-1 start to the season now seems like nothing more than a tease as they continue to sink lower in the National League East standings — they are now in third place, at 17-14 — and back toward a .500 record, or maybe worse.
Set against those increasingly alarming negatives was the heartening performance of Matz. He had unraveled against the Cardinals after making a throwing error, which had prompted Callaway, a former pitching coach, to show him a between-pitches routine designed to keep him focused under pressure.
“It’s just basically taking a step back, fixing my hat, my glove, resetting and getting back on the mound,” Matz said. “It’s easy to do when everything’s going your way and you’re getting quick outs. But when you walk a guy or go 2-0 on the pitcher, the game can speed up really fast on you.”
He said the routine given to him by Callaway “really helped me slow myself down.”
Callaway said he was particularly impressed on Saturday that Matz was able to rebound from Arenado’s home run — a towering fly ball that landed on the apple beyond the center-field fence — as well as emerge unscathed from innings in which he had a runner at second base with one out or less. To Callaway, all of that demonstrated a more aggressive presence on the mound than Matz had shown in his previous five starts this season.
“I saw it in his face and in his demeanor and the way he went about his business tonight from pitch one,” Callaway said. “I felt there was a real edge to him that I haven’t seen before.”
Not so for the Mets’ offense, which has been outscored by 28-7 over the last four games. Three times on Saturday night, the Mets got a runner to second base with nothing to show for it. Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to end a fourth-inning threat, Todd Frazier lined into a double play to end the sixth and Jay Bruce flied out to the wall in left to end the eighth.
Callaway, who sat the struggling Michael Conforto and started Brandon Nimmo in center field instead, indicated he may try some more juggling in an effort to jump-start the offense. He was able to help Matz. Now it is the lineup’s turn.