Holy Harvey! Mets Ace Settles In, Pitches Gem and Hits First Major League Homer
By Neil A. Carousso
Flushing, NY — After pitching a first inning reminiscent of his home outing against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, June 10 in which Matt Harvey gave up two first inning runs on a home run by Giants second baseman Joe Panik, ultimately suffering his fourth loss of the season, the “Dark Knight” pitched an impeccable game and added a notch to his belt at the plate. Despite only four hits, the Mets provided enough offense to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 in the second game of a three-game series at Citi Field.
“This guy competes; it’s unbelievable,” said New York Mets manager Terry Collins after the game. “As the game went along, the better his command,” added the skipper.
Harvey settled in after giving up a two-run home run to D-Backs shortstop David Peralta in the first inning. It was Peralta’s eighth home run on the season, batting second in the Arizona line-up.
Meanwhile, the Amazins’ offense awakened in the fifth inning, after being one-hit through four. Lucas Duda, who crushed a three-run home run in Friday night’s first inning, hit an opposite field solo homer Saturday afternoon in the fifth.
“He’s a stinking, working fool,” Collins said of his first baseman, adding, “He and Kevin [Long] (Mets hitting coach) have gotten together, talked about a couple of things that he needs to do mechanically, Lucas is trying, and it’s starting to pay off.”
Duda went 1 for 2 with that homer and that lone RBI and run, along with a walk in the sixth. He has just 3 hits in 24 at-bats in his last seven games. However, Duda has homered in back-to-back games for the second time this season. He also did so on May 27 and 29 against the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins in Queens. In addition, the Mets slugger is now hitting .312 (25-80) versus lefty pitchers this season.
Three batters after Duda’s fifth inning blast, third baseman Eric Campbell walked to set-up Harvey’s momentum lifting at-bat. Number 33 helped himself, crushing a 93 mph two-seam fastball from D-Backs starter Patrick Corbin over the left-centerfield fence. The play was reviewed, which lasted 1 minute and 39 seconds, but the play was upheld as it was evident that the ball cleared the orange line at the top of the blue outfield fence, while a fan reached over the Party City Deck railing at Citi Field to catch Harvey’s first major league home run. It was the first home run by a pitcher since Mets right-handed starter Noah Syndergaard hit a home run to centerfield on May 27 of this year against the Phillies, a highlight of a 7-0 Mets win.
“I know they work at it,” Collins said of his pitchers performance at the plate, enthusiastically adding, “Thor doesn’t have anything over Bam Bam anymore!”
Thor is an endearing nickname given to Syndergaard, whom many say resembles the character’s physical features. “Bam Bam” is a nickname attributed to Harvey.
Mets starters are batting .172 this season with two home runs and 15 RBIs.
This Mets team has been playing better of late, going 4-2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Giants on the west coast, before coming home to play the Diamondbacks before the all-star break.
Mets shortstop Reuben Tejada, who came into the game batting .236 with one home run, ripped a homer off Corbin to lead-off the home half of the sixth inning, which cleared the left field fence. Corbin was then taken out, after 5+ innings pitched. He gave up four hits, four earned runs, a walk and three home runs. The lefty struck out five batters in the loss. After Corbin exited the ballgame, the Mets didn’t get another hit.
Meanwhile, after Harvey gave up two runs on one hit in the first inning, the Dark Knight gave up four hits and no runs, capped off by the pitcher’s best friend, a 4-6-3 double play at the seventh inning stretch, an inning Collins let him start with a limited number of pitches left. He threw 109 pitches for his eighth win of the season; Harvey is now 8-6 with a 3.07 ERA. He was pinch-hit for by Curtis Granderson with two-outs in the bottom of the seventh. Former Met lefty Oliver Perez came in to face the lefty batter. Harvey gave up five hits and 2 runs over his seven innings of work. The Mets power-pitcher walked four batters and sat-down nine.
“As he continues to get stronger, continues to get through this post-surgery thing, he’s going to be as good as he ever was,” Collins said of his potential ace. “He’s got the same make-up he always had.”
Bobby Parnell entered the game in relief in the eighth inning to set-up Jeurys Familia, who earned his 26th save of the 2015 season with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including a strikeout.
With the win, the Mets have won three straight games. The Amazins’ are 6-2 in their last eight contests. New York improves to 46-42 and inches to a game and a half behind the Washington Nationals, who visits the Baltimore Orioles in a Saturday night contest at Camden Yards, but as the Nats beat the O’s 7-4, the Metropolitans remain two games behind Washington in the N.L. East.
New York will look to sweep the Diamondbacks Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, before the all-star break, with Jonathan Niese (4-8, 3.58) on the mound against Rubby De La Rosa (6-4, 4.89). The Mets are 31-14 on their home field, after 45 games played in Flushing, which is tied for the best start in franchise history with the 1986 and 1988 ball clubs; the Amazins’ .689 winning percentage is the second-best in the majors.
However, Mets fans know the team will need to add a bat in the line-up in order to be competitive in 2015.
“Right now I’m not sure if they should do it,” remarked Howie Rose about trading one of the plentiful young Mets pitchers for a hitter. Rose is in his 20th season in the Mets broadcast booth. “They could be developing something really really special here.”