Terry Collins knows Game 3 may be the most important game of the Division Series. His club is now at home after splitting the first two in Hollywood.
And after Chase Utley’s takeout slide on Ruben Tejada, it’s now Gotham’s turn and leading the way tomorrow is its Dark Knight.
“Right now we need Matt Harvey to step up and pitch the kind of game we know he’s capable of pitching,” Collins said. “Because when we made this decision to pitch him tomorrow, which we did a long time ago, we felt this was the pivotal game of this series, and it’s turned out to be that. We’re at our park. We need him to step up and pitch a good ballgame, and that’s all I hope he does.”
With all the Harvey distractions over the past month, a big outing tomorrow from the Mets ace will wash away any of the innings limits, annoying agents or missed practices that plagued the star since the beginning of September.
It’s up to him now and he seems to be ready.
“Obviously finding out I was going to pitch Game 3, you know it’s either going to be 2-0, 1-1 or we’re going to be down two games and need a win,” Harvey said. “So regardless of how things shaped up, I think we’re all excited to be back at home, and you know, obviously we wish we were 2-0 coming here and having a chance of beating them both games at home. But you know, our mindset is to do that anyways, and with one win in LA, I think we’re pretty happy with that. We’re all excited for tomorrow.”
For whatever momentum the Dodgers may have had after yesterday’s contraversal win, it can easily be erased by Harvey. After all, you are only as good as your next day’s starter. And with Brian Anderson going to Los Angeles, the Mets have a distinct advantage on the mound.
They also will have a new rallying cry, because they will not forget what happened to Tejada last night.
“They were pretty upset,” Collins said of his team. “Needless to say, they were quite upset with the whole situation, and, you know, as you said, we don’t need any more motivation, but that certainly gives us some extra motivation going into tomorrow night.”
Collins will be penciling in Wilmer Flores into Tejada’s vacant hole. The infielder hit .263 with 16 homers and 59 RBI during the season. However, he has been battling back issues and a step throat over the past month, which caused him to lose some weight.
“That’s why we’ve been trying to rest him,” Collins said. “Obviously the back was an initial issue, and again, as we all know about these guys, a lot of these guys don’t say much. You know, how bad — how was his back bothering before he finally said something, I don’t know. I can’t tell you. He’s the only one that can deal with that. But the strep throat was a huge concern because he couldn’t eat and wasn’t eating. He had some medication that wasn’t helping him, and had some effects on him.
“So he said he’s been feeling a lot better, feels like he’s ready to go, so we’re hoping that when he goes out there tomorrow night, that he’s the player we know he can be. But you know, has he put all the weight back on? No, not really. But as long as he’s got some energy, that’s all that matters because he didn’t have it for a while.”
The Mets are also calling up Matt Reynolds to replace Tejada on the roster. He hit .267 with six home runs and 65 RBI in Triple-A Las Vegas and looks to be a reserve in case Collins needs someone to play shortstop.
Hopefully for the Mets, he won’t be needed, but if he does, Reynolds will be available.
In the meantime, Harvey is ready and even changed his tune when it comes to pitching later in the series, like for a Game 5 appearance in relief.
“I’d love to,” Harvey said. “You know, obviously after tomorrow I’m going to do everything I can to get my body and arm back as soon as possible. You know, obviously I can’t throw a uniform on and run to the bullpen and say, I want to throw in the seventh inning, but I’ll definitely speak my mind and let them know how I feel going into that game.
“You know, my whole idea about being here is wanting to play in every game and be out there as much as I can, so if that means a little extra running, a little extra massage, then I’m going to do everything I can to help this team.”
That’s the Dark Knight Met fans know and love.