Published: June 1, 2014
If this was a final audition for Tyler Matzek, he didn't see it that way.
Then again, maybe he just didn't want to.
As speculation has swirled that Matzek may be called up to the Colorado Rockies before his next start, the Sky Sox hurler struggled Sunday in a 9-8 loss to New Orleans.
Matzek surrendered nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits in 42/3 innings. The left-hander walked four, struck out two and gave up a pair of home runs.
"I don't think it had anything to do with it," Matzek said of any impact that call-up rumors might have had on his performance. "That just wasn't my best outing."
Matzek said he has heard nothing about a possible promotion, and pitching coach Dave Schuler said the same thing.
"I'm like Sgt. Schultz in 'Hogan's Heroes,'" Schuler said. "I know nothing."
Schuler did know enough to diagnose Matzek's issues Sunday.
Matzek felt he was rushing, which Schuler said happens when Matzek moves forward too fast down the mound - disrupting his natural rhythm. The result is a loss of command on his fastball, and when that goes the secondary pitches lose their impact.
"He's very different," Schuler said. "His delivery is very different than any other pitcher on the planet. I try to get him to get his front side up during the game, but it just didn't happen consistently. I'm hoping to show him some film of Roger Clemens, because they have a very similar aspect in their deliveries."
Matzek wasn't the only starter who struggled in this game that had the makings of a top-notch Triple-A pitchers' duel. New Orleans lefty Andrew Heaney - the top prospect in the Miami Marlins' organization - improved to 2-0 through three starts since a promotion despite the worst start of his short professional career.
Heaney gave up 11 hits and six runs (five earned) in six innings. He walked one and struck out four.
Neither pitcher was effective from the start. The Zephyrs tagged Matzek for two runs in each of the first and second innings and the Sky Sox put up three in the second on Heaney to tie the game 4-4 at that point.
"The wind was blowing out, balls were carrying a little more," Matzek said.
Ben Paulsen homered in the second inning - giving him home runs in three straight at-bats stretching to Saturday night - and later added a two-run single to complete a 2-for-4 day with four RBIs. Catcher Michael McKenry added three hits for the Sky Sox.
New Orleans was led by three RBIs from Mark Canha.
The big question for the Sky Sox is whether they'll continue to have Matzek in the rotation, or if he'll get his first shot at the major leagues in place of the struggling Franklin Morales.
The answer likely won't be known for several days.
"I have no idea," Matzek said. "I don't care. It's their choice, not mine. I haven't really paid any attention to it at all. I try not to. You guys keep telling me about it and I don't even want to hear about it, honestly."