Tuesday night’s game between the White Sox and Mets saw a clash of seven game streaks. Chicago entered with a seven-game losing streak, while Mets starter Steven Matz countered with a seven-start winning streak. Baseball is a funny game and decided to end both with one fell swoop as the Sox came from behind to claw out a 6-4 victory in New York.
1. Matching a season high for strikeouts generally deserves effusive praise. It’s a different story when your season high is five. Such was the case for the walking smoke-and-mirror-show known as Mat Latos. Stepping up against a team he had previously owned to the tune of a 2.87 ERA, Latos’ final line was 5 IP, 4 R (2 ER), 4 H, 3 BB, and 5 K. Latos probably would have taken the ball to start the sixth in an American League park, but he was pulled in the top of the sixth for pinch-hitter Jerry Sands, who continues to provoke the question “What is Jerry Sands doing on a major league roster?”
Latos wasn’t helped by his defense as two miscues allowed runners to score in the first and second. He also wasn’t helped by his exceptionally hittable fastball. The Mets were turning on “heaters” all day, shooting a number a liners just foul or deep into the outfield. Hard contact and long outs are a terrifying way to make a living, and they finally caught up to Latos in the form of a Neil Walker no-doubter to right, giving the Mets a 4-0 lead. If there were positives to take away from another mediocre start, it was an improved curveball which drew several swing and misses. If the fastball is going to remain a 91 mph straight shot, it’s going to be increasingly important for Latos to locate and draw swings on breaking stuff outside the zone.
2. Tyler Saladino had himself a day and took another step towards becoming the everyday shortstop. His Baseball Tonight moment came in the eighth when he tomahawked a high fastball from Hansel Robles into the left field seats for the game’s deciding runs. Beyond the highlights, he managed to draw two walks against the stingy Matz and stole consecutive bases in the sixth before scoring the Sox third run. Hawk was quick to alert us that he is the smartest player on the field. This is comical. His moustache finger swipe has been added to the pantheon of odd seizure-esque White Sox gesticulations. This, too, is comical.
3. Todd Frazier proved a difference maker on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately for the Sox, making a difference is not always a plus. A defensive shift in the first saw Frazier covering second base and dropping a glove flip from Brett Lawrie. In the second inning, a high throw brought Jose Abreu off the bag for another E5. Both runs came around to score and helped the Mets put up the Fibonacci sequence through the first three innings. Frazier was able to atone for both mistakes in the sixth by driving in the Sox first two runs with a three-iron to center for his league leading 16th home run.
4. Coming into the game, Matz was on an impressive roll. He’d won his past seven starts while averaging just over nine K/9. The first time through the order looked to be more of the same, as the Sox hitters continuously pounded balls into the ground. However, the wheels came off in the sixth, where he gave up three earned before getting the hook.
5. There was a surprising appearance from Thor, who had his last start cut short after firing a fastball behind Chase Utley and getting tossed. Syndergaard stuck to a fastball and slider mix for his single inning and was predictably dominating. Pumping 101 mph heaters and 94 mph sliders is silly enough from a closer. The White Sox are understandably pleased to only have encountered him for an inning.
6. And, finally, the bullpen didn’t blow a lead. All is right in the world.
Team record: 28-25
Next game is Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. CT at New York.
Lead Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports