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Matz tosses a shutout in victory over Pirates

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The Mets came out on the winning end of a pitcher’s duel at Citi Field.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The Mets shut out the Pirates 3-0 last night, securing the series victory at Citi Field. In every lost season, there are moments that keep the most diehard of fans tuned in because you never know when you’ll get to see something incredible. Tonight was one such moment for the Mets, as Steven Matz tossed the first complete game of his career. He mowed down the Pirates lineup, needing just 99 pitches to complete the victory. It was the first time a Met threw a complete game in under 100 pitches since Johan Santana did it in 2012. Because Trevor Williams pitched brilliantly for the Pirates, as well, the game was a brisk two hours and ten minutes in length. Take note, Rob Manfred.

It was apparent almost right away that Matz had his good stuff working and he was pumping strikes from the moment he took the mound. He had a nine-pitch first inning that included two strikeouts—both looking. Pirates manager Clint Hurdel took exception to some of the strike calls by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and was ejected from the game—a manifestation of a struggling team that Mets fans are all too familiar with.

But Trevor Williams, who has struggled mightily since the All-Star break, matched zeros with Matz. Neither team had a hit until the fourth inning, when Melky Cabrera smacked a ground rule double with one out. But Matz made quick work of the next two hitters, inducing a grounder to short from Starling Marte and striking out Josh Bell looking to end the inning. In the bottom of the fifth, the Mets broke through with their first hit off Williams—a double by J.D. Davis—but they were also not able to score. The Pirates intentionally walked Rosario with two outs to get to Matz, who struck out swinging.

Matz gave up a double to Jacob Stallings to lead off the sixth inning and after Williams struck out on a failed bunt attempt, Kevin Newman hit a single to put two men on base for the first time. But Matz induced a double play grounder off the bat of Melky Cabrera to get out of the inning unscathed.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the sixth, the Mets finally snapped the scoreless tie thanks to a towering home run off the bat of Michael Conforto. Matz stranded another runner in scoring position in the seventh. With two outs, Bryan Reynolds hit a single and advanced to second on a passed ball by Ramos, which appeared to be a cross up. Matz then got the big out he needed to, getting Jose Osuna to pop out to end the inning. Matz still had just 78 pitches through seven.

The Mets rewarded his efforts by giving him a bit of cushion to work with in the final two innings. With one out, Todd Frazier popped up to shortstop, but Jung Ho Kang dropped the popup, allowing Frazier to reach base on the error. That mistake proved to be very costly for the Pirates, as J.D. Davis then took Williams deep for just the Mets’ fourth hit, but second home run of the night.

Matz made the 3-0 lead stand the rest of the way. He retired the Pirates 1-2-3 in the eighth inning and allowed a leadoff single in the ninth inning, but made quick work of the next three hitters to earn his sixth win of the season and even his record to 6-6 for the year. The brief timespan between being relegated into the bullpen shortly before the All-Star break to pitching a complete game shutout in just his second start after the break is quite extraordinary and it’s a milestone he’s unlikely to forget.

The Mets look to break out the brooms and sweep the struggling Bucs, as Jason Vargas takes the hill against Chris Archer in the series finale.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Steven Matz, +48.1% WPA, Michael Conforto, +19.8% WPA, J.D. Davis, +16.3% WPA
Big losers: None
Total pitcher WPA: +48.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: +1.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s solo homer that snapped the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth, +20.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jacob Stallings hits a leadoff double off Steven Matz in the top of the sixth, -9.9% WPA