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After a succession of odd moves by Mets manager Mickey Callaway, Seth Lugo was trusted with a one-run Mets lead to start the seventh inning. Instead of slamming the door, Lugo held open batting practice for the Braves to spoil a gem of a start from Steven Matz in the Mets’ 6-4 loss on Wednesday night.
Lugo faced seven batters and only recorded one out. The right-hander allowed a leadoff walk and six consecutive singles as the Braves romped back for a 5-2 lead. Lugo’s season ERA ballooned from 2.65 to 3.41 by the time Callaway pulled him from the ugly 26-pitch outing.
Matz had retired 14 straight batters before Callaway pulled him on just 79 pitches. It was peculiar, though, that Matz batted for himself in the top of the seventh inning. He singled to right field to spark a two-out rally that culminated in a 2-1 Mets’ lead. Matz scored the game-tying run on J.D. Davis’ RBI single to center field. Since he just batted for himself and he was plowing through the Braves lineup, it would make sense for Matz to pitch the bottom of the inning.
Callaway’s unusual decision to have Matz bat for himself, only to remove the southpaw from his start, mattered when Lugo coughed up five earned runs on five hits that quickly erased the Mets’ short-lived lead. When Callaway asked Lugo to pitch the seventh (and likely the eighth) inning, it could be interpreted that the skipper was going to use Edwin Diaz to close the ninth.
The only problem with that plan was, Diaz had given up a two-run home run as recent as his last outing against the Nationals on Sunday. Diaz holds a 5.60 season ERA across 49 brutal relief appearances. Plus, Callaway recently explained that the Mets trust Lugo in high-leverage situations.
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