After the success of certain moves by the Mets manager Mickey Callaway, Seth Lugo was a one-run Mets lead to start the seventh inning. Instead of ending the match that had an amazing start from Steven Matz, Lugo held open batting for the Braves in the Mets’ 6-4 loss on Wednesday night.
Lugo faced seven batters and only recorded one out. The right-hander allowed a leadoff walk and six consecutive singles as the Braves cavorted back for a 5-2 lead. Lugo’s season ERA ballooned from 2.65 to 3.41 by the time Callaway pulled him from the ugly 26-pitch outing.
Callaway pulled Matz out on just 79 pitches when he was playing amazing and had retired 14 batters straight. It was unusual though that Matz batted for himself in the seven top innings. He singled to right field to spark a two-out rally that culminated in a 2-1 Mets’ lead. Matz scored the game-tying run on J.D. Davis’ RBI single to center field. It would make sense for Matz to pitch the bottom of the innings since he just batted for himself and he was plowing through the Braves lineup.
Callaway said: “We have the best relievers in baseball sitting in Seth Lugo; Matz has been doing the job for a month. He is running around the bases. They have Josh Donaldson coming up, Adam Duvall coming up. I’ll make the move 100 times out of 100. That is the right move to do”
Matz said the pulling him for Lugo was “the call of the manager”. He said that as a competitor, he wanted to pitch the seventh inning.
Matz said, “My command was going good, I had faith, it was all starting to come together as the game was going on.”
Callway’s strange decision to have Matz remove the southpaw from his start, mattered when Lugo coughed up the five earned runs on five hits that quickly erased the Mets’ short-lived lead. The skipper’s expectation from Lugo was that he would pitch two scoreless innings. It could be inferred that the skipper was going to use Edwin Diaz to close the ninth, but Callaway didn’t commit to that either.
Callaway said: “the plan was to get two innings of Lugo and then decide who will be coming up in the ninth inning.”
The problem with Diaz is that he’s completely unpredictable, can be the best in one match but the worst in the other match. Diaz holds a 5.60 season ERA across 49 brutal relief appearances. Diaz gave up a two-run home as a recent outing against the Nationals on Sundays. Callaway explained that Mets trust Lugo in high-leverage situations. If not Diaz, the left-handed Justin Wilson is the second option.
Lugo said: ‘I thought I made good pitches, I was just unlucky.”
Besides Diaz, all the Mets relievers Lugo, in particular, had been the best since All-Star break. Lugo held opponents hitless over 35 at-bats before Anthony Rendon homered off him last Saturday.
The Mets tacked on a pair of runs in a ninth-inning rally. The game had already gone out of their reach, unfortunately.