Gnats' Matz paints a picture of health

Mets prospect pitches first career complete-game shutout

Steven Matz has allowed three runs over his last 26 2/3 innings. (Roger Peterson/

By Robert Emrich / | July 6, 2013 8:23 PM ET

If there were any lingering doubts that Steven Matz was over his health issues, he put them to rest on Saturday.

The Mets prospect hurled a three-hitter for his first career complete-game shutout as Savannah beat Greenville in the first game of a doubleheader.

Matz (3-4) struck out five, walked three and threw 61 of 100 pitches for strikes in the seven-inning opener.

"Early, I was struggling with my off-speed [stuff] a little bit, but I had good life on my fastball today, which got me through earlier," he said. "After the third or fourth, I found that [off-speed] and it kept me going through seven."

Matz pitched a career-high eight innings in his last start but ended a personal four-game losing streak and registered his first win since May 9.

"It's a pretty good feeling," he said of going the distance. "Not the full nine, but it's pretty cool to go and meet the catcher after you throw that last pitch."

A 2009 second-round Draft pick, Matz missed two full seasons following Tommy John surgery and complications that arose from it. Over his last four starts, the Long Island native has allowed three runs -- two earned -- on 11 hits over 26 1/3 innings. He ranks fifth in the South Atlantic League with a 2.28 ERA.

"Just attacking the hitters and trusting my stuff," Matz said of his recent success. "[Pitching coach] Frank Viola has been stressing that to me -- just get ahead. When you get ahead, you make it so much easier. That's been the key, just getting ahead."

The 22-year-old left-hander also is seventh in the SAL with a 1.11 WHIP and has 75 strikeouts over 71 innings. But the most important number, according to Matz, is 14 -- the number of starts he's made.

"I've only missed one start this year because of a blister," he said. "I've been feeling good and bouncing back. I think this is the third start in a row that I've thrown 100 pitches. Hopefully, I have that all behind me."

Char Zurcher reached base four times and scored a run out of the leadoff spot for the Sand Gnats, who got an RBI single from Kyle Johnson. Mets No. 4 prospect Brandon Nimmo scored a run after entering the game as a pinch-runner in the seventh.

Drive starter Justin Haley tossed five one-hit innings but did not figure in the decision.

Greenville salvaged a split with a 3-1 victory in the nightcap.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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