New York Mets' manager Terry Collins told reporters before tonight's game with the Washington Nationals, that he was confident 24-year-old right-hander Matt Harvey could handle the hype of a marquee matchup like the one he was part of tonight in Citi Field against Stephen Strasburg. The young pitcher was determined to be one of the best the Mets' skipper said. "His determination is what really sets him apart," Collins explained, "It started a year ago. He just didn’t want to make the team. He wanted to be the best pitcher on the team. And now he’s on the team. And now he wants to be the best pitcher in the league." Through three starts this season he's been one of the best in baseball. He was dominant on the mound again tonight in New York.
Harvey, the Mets' 2010 1st Round pick, taken 7th overall, had a 0.82 ERA, a 2.22 FIP, six walks (2.45 BB/9) and 25 Ks (10.23 K/9) through three starts and 22.0 innings pitched this year. Strasburg, the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick, who's also 24, was (1-2) with a 2.95 ERA, a 3.14 FIP, fives walks (2.45 BB/9) and 15 Ks (7.36 K/9) in three starts and 18.1 IP so far this season. Harvey came out aggressive in his fourth start of the year, getting Nats' leadoff man Denard Span to chase a 99 mph 0-2 fastball outside for a swinging K and out no.1 of the first of three for the Nationals in Flushing, Queens. Jayson Werth walked with one down and moved up on a Bryce Harper groundout, but a line drive right to second baseman Daniel Murphy by Adam LaRoche ended a scoreless first for Harvey after 19 pitches.
Strasburg missed with an 0-2 change that Mets' leadoff man Jordany Valdespin spit on, but got a weak groundout to short with a 1-2 change only to have it bounce off Ian Desmond's wrist. E:6. No.6 for Desmond. Valdespin was off and running when Daniel Murphy lined a full-count pitch through the right side and the Mets' center fielder was standing on third with no one out and David Wright coming up. A wild pitch by Strasburg with Wright at the plate brought Valdespin home to make it 1-0 NY. John Buck lined to left to bring Murphy in from third two outs later, and it was 2-0 Mets after a 28-pitch opening frame by the Nats' starter.
Matt Harvey got both Ian Desmond (96 mph) and Chad Tracy (98 mph) to chase high heaters out of the zone for back-to-back Ks to start the Nats' second, and a pop to third by Steve Lombardozzi ended a quick, 12-pitch inning that had the Mets' starter at 30 overall after two. Strasburg's second inning of work began with Mets' outfielder Marlon Byrd lining a center-cut, 1-1 fastball to left-center for a leadoff double. Byrd tagged and took third on a fly to right by Ruben Tejada, but he was stranded there when Strasburg struck the opposing pitcher and Jordany Valdespin out to end the second after 19 pitches. 47 total in 2.0 IP.
Silver Slugger-winning starter Stephen Strasburg doubled with one down in the third, but he was stranded at second two outs later when Jayson Werth took a 1-2 slider for a called strike three and Matt Harvey's fourth K. The 13-pitch inning had the Mets' starter at 44 overall. Strasburg walked Daniel Murphy to start the Mets' third. Two outs later, Murphy was still at second after a flyout by Wright and a swinging K by Ike Davis. John Buck worked the count full with two down, but took a brutal full-count curve for a called strike three on Strasburg's 67th pitch of the night. 20-pitch frame. 2-0 Mets.
Matt Harvey was up to 58 pitches after setting Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche down and going to a full count with Ian Desmond, and he issued a two-out walk to the Nats' infielder to bring Chad Tracy to the plate with a runner on. Tracy flew out to center, however, and the Mets' starter was through four scoreless on 62 pitches after an 18-pitch inning vs Washington. Strasburg let the leadoff man on in four straight innings when he walked Lucas Duda to start the Mets' fourth, but three outs later the runner was still standing at first when the Nats' right-hander completed a 16-pitch frame at 83 pitches overall. Still 2-0 NY.
Steve Lombardozzi flew to left to start the fifth. A swinging K from Kurt Suzuki and a groundout by Strasburg ended a quick nine-pitch frame by the Mets' starter. 71 total for Harvey after five. Jordany Valdespin flew to right to become the first leadoff man Strasburg retired tonight. Denard Span caught a Daniel Murphy fly for out no.2 of the Mets' fifth then crashed back first into Citi Field's center field wall. A groundout to short by David Wright ended a 13-pitch inning that had Strasburg at 96 overall after five. Still 2-0 Mets.
Denard Span singled to center on Matt Harvey's first pitch of the sixth, collecting the Nats' second hit, but Jayson Werth grounded into a 4-6-3 and Jordany Valdespin made a diving catch on a Bryce Harper liner to center that ended the Nats' half of the inning. One pitch into the Mets' sixth it was 3-0 New York when Ike Davis, who'd K'd in each of his two previous at bats, homered to left and 10 rows back into the Citi Field seats. One out later, Lucas Duda took a 1-0 four-seamer to center for another solo blast and a 4-0 Mets' lead in the home-half of the sixth. Two outs later, Strasburg was up to 111 pitches when he completed the sixth.
Adam LaRoche walked to start the seventh, took second on an Ian Desmond single and then scored on a line drive single to left by Chad Tracy that finally got the Nationals on the board. 4-1 New York. Steve Lombardozzi appeared to ground into a DP, but a bad toss by Daniel Murphy left the bases loaded with everyone safe. Still no outs. Kurt Suzuki battled, but K'd swinging over a 1-2 slider outside. Roger "The Shark" Bernadina stepped in for Strasburg, but popped out to the catcher. Denard Span came up with two down, and grounded to second to end the top of the seventh. Harvey got a standing ovation as he walked off the field.
• Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 111 P, 64 S, 4/8 GO/FO
• Harvey's Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 105 P, 68 S, 6/4 GO/FO
Zach Duke took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh and threw a quick 1-2-3 frame. Mets' lefty Scott Rice retired the Nationals in order in the top of the eighth. Drew Storen took over for Washington in the Mets' eighth and gave up a long fly to center by David Wright that Denard Span misjudged into a leadoff triple. Ike Davis followed with a two-run homer in the next at bat and it was 6-1 New York in the bottom of the eighth. One out later, Lucas Duda his own second home run of the night and it was 7-1 Mets after eight in Citi Field.
Bobby Parnell came on in the top of the ninth. Ian Desmond flew out to Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center for out no.1. Daniel Murphy made a diving stop and throw to get Chad Tracy for out no.2 and Steve Lombardozzi grounded back to the mound. Ballgame.
Nationals drop the first of three to the Mets, 7-1 final.
Nationals now 9-7