NEW YORK -- To say that Mets starter Steven Matz never faced adversity before Monday's 10-3 loss to the Marlins would be false.
Matz overcame tremendous obstacles simply to reach this point, breaking into the big leagues last year despite a Tommy John surgery that threatened his career, plus various other injuries along the way. He pitched Game 4 of the World Series amidst immense pressure.
But before Monday, Matz had never been battered and discarded in a Major League game the way the Marlins did to him. By the time Matz's 40-pitch, second-inning nightmare was complete, the Marlins had amassed seven runs on five hits and two walks. Giancarlo Stanton punctuated it with a two-run homer. Adeiny Hechavarria and Christian Yelich hit two-run singles. And Matz, who was making his season debut amidst skyscraper-high expectations that he could be the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner, could not make it out of the inning.
It all made for a miserable night for Matz and the Mets, who had entered this season hoping their pedestrian start -- a 2-3 record through five games -- would reverse itself against the Marlins. Instead, the Mets were left with a bruised ego and a tattered bullpen, praying that Noah Syndergaard can carry them through the bulk of Tuesday's rematch.
"It wasn't very good," said Matz, who suffered his first career regular-season defeat. "But it's about wins and losses, and it was just a loss. I'm going to work as hard as I can to get back on track next outing."
Most of Matz's issues stemmed from his inability to put away Marlins hitters. After walking the first two batters he faced in the second, Matz jumped ahead in the count on six of the next seven. It didn't matter. The Marlins extended their at-bats until they found pitches they liked, and they hardly missed any of them.
"He just ran into a situation where he gave up a few consecutive hits," catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. "Sooner or later, seven runs were across the board. It happens to everyone. I know Steven will shake it off pretty easily."
Better days will indeed come for Matz, whose disjointed start to the season included a nine-day layoff between his final spring outing and Monday's debut. Available out of the bullpen in Kansas City last week, Matz never pitched, forcing him to do irregular side work in an effort to stay sharp. Now that Matz is back on an every-five-games schedule, there is reason to assume he may settle into a groove.
In the minutes that followed Monday's defeat, Matz was already speaking of his plan to watch video, digest it and glean every lesson possible from his mistakes. Then he will shove it deep into the farthest reaches of his memory -- rainy-day evidence of some big league growing pains he hopes never to experience again.
"He didn't make really any pitches that he needed to make," manager Terry Collins said. "We'll get him back out there in five or six days and get him on a regular schedule, but we know he's a lot better than that."