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Cardinals’ Steven Matz faces former Mets teammates

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) delivers in the first inning during a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Friday, April 22, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.St Louis Cardinals At Cincinnati Reds April 22 4449
Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Mets will square off against a familiar face when they shoot for a three-game road sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

The Mets won the first two games 5-2 and 3-0 to clinch their sixth straight series to open the season. They have won 11 of their past 14 games.

Cardinals starting pitcher Steven Matz (2-1, 5.27 ERA) spent the first six years of his career with the Mets. The Toronto Blue Jays acquired him from the Mets ahead of the 2021 season, and then Matz became a free agent after going 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA last year.

The Mets made a bid to bring him back, but he signed with the Cardinals instead for four years and $44 million. This did not sit well with Mets owner Steve Cohen.

“I’m not happy this morning,” Cohen said in a tweet at the time. “I’ve never seen such unprofessional behavior exhibited by a player’s agent. I guess words and promises don’t matter.”

Matz was interested in returning to the Mets, but the Cardinals swooped in with a compelling offer before the owners locked out the players.

“We wanted to get it done,” Matz said, according to the New York Post. “It really made an interesting situation with the lockout almost forming a deadline. It was almost like a last-minute thing, but there were no deals done (with the Mets) or anything.”

As for Cohen’s tweet, Matz said: “He’s a passionate owner, so you have got to respect that. I don’t love drama, that is not my personality so I didn’t love it, but I was really excited to come to this organization, so that kind of overshadowed it for me.”

The Mets will counter with Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 1.47 ERA), who beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2 in his latest start. He allowed the two runs on just four hits in 7 2/3 innings on Thursday, striking out seven and walking none.

In his first three starts this year, Carrasco has built endurance while making 72, then 82 and 91 pitches. He is back to full strength after recovering from the surgical removal of a bone chip in his elbow.

“There’s not that constant focus on every time he cocks his arm,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s in a good spot. Let’s face it, the big thing is he’s healthy. We all know what Carlos is capable of when he’s healthy.”

Carrasco is 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his two career starts against the Cardinals, who have scored just 14 runs in their past seven games. They mustered only three hits Tuesday night while losing their third straight game.

“There are some guys starting to feel better about their at-bats and feeling pretty good,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “There’s some other guys that aren’t and we need to see more production out of them.”

In his only previous career start against the Mets, Matz is 0-1 after allowing two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings last season.

Matz endured a disastrous first start this season, allowing seven runs on nine hits in just three innings. However, in his past two starts, he allowed just one run total on 10 hits in 10 2/3 innings.

–Field Level Media