The New York Mets charged out of the All-Star break with two decisive wins over the Colorado Rockies this weekend. They outscored the Rockies 23-5 through the first two games of their three-game series. Sunday’s script went a bit differently. Steven Matz lasted less than two innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits as the Mets fell 13-4 to Colorado. According to Newsday’s Marc Carig, Matz’s outing was the shortest by a Met pitcher since Sean Gilmartin last 2/3 of an inning last September.

“I feel I wasn’t really sharp today,” Matz told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “I was leaving balls right over the middle of the plate, and they were hitting it.

Yoenis Cespesdes’ absence from the lineup compounded the team’s difficulties on Sunday afternoon. The oft-injured slugger left Saturday night’s game in the sixth inning with a hip injury after attempting a sliding catch in left field. Terry Collins removed Cespedes from the game for “precautionary” reasons. Cespedes sat out Sunday’s game, but expects to return to the lineup on Monday.

“I don’t think it’s real serious with Ces [Cespedes], but certainly if he’s out any period of time we’ll just have to do the best we can,” Collins added. The Mets have taken an especially cautious approach with Cespedes. He has already missed a sizable chunk of games this season with hamstring issues. Despite this careful treatment, Cespedes’ fragility continues to show.

Seth Lugo channeled his inner-Cespedes by launching his first career home run on Saturday. Jay Bruce added to the home run festivities with his team-leading 24th home run of the season.

Matz’s subpar outing on Sunday set the team back slightly in its pursuit of the NL’s second wild card berth. The Mets entered Sunday’s series finale 8.5 games behind the Rockies with a chance to sweep. Now, the Mets sit 9.5 games back, and are 1-5 in Sunday games at Citi Field since May 7.

The Mets will look to get back on the winning track when they open up a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. The Cardinals present another crucial wild card matchup for the Mets.

In fact, the Mets beating up on the Rockies may not prove all that much. They still need to leapfrog the Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago Cubs to get to that last wild card spot. The odds that all those teams collapse in the second half are fairly remote.

The Mets clearly have their work cut out for them. Collins expressed optimism in his team’s playoff hopes.

“I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination this is over yet.”

 

Jesse Andreozzi is a staff writer at Outside Pitch Sports Network covering the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Jesse_Andreozzi