PHILADELPHIA – A collective gasp came over the Mets dugout in the bottom of the sixth inning. In what was turning out to be a proverbial laugher, with the Mets up 10-2, turned to concern as starting pitcher Matt Harvey called for the trainer to come to the mound.
The last play saw Michael Saunders ground out to first base, with Harvey covering and something was felt in his left leg.
“Covering first, I just came over and it kind of cramped up on me,” Harvey said after the Mets eventual 14 -4 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. “It was nothing serious.”
The Mets are obviously downplaying this as their oft-injured pitcher needs to stay healthy with the staff already down Steven Matz and Seth Lugo. If it’s “tightness” and “dehydration,” as Terry Collins put it, then great, but still there needs to be some concern.
And that’s because Harvey returned this season as “The Dark Knight” his first two starts. A slow start in the spring doesn’t matter. He seems to be back, making his pitches and fitting in nicely with Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.
“I was locating pretty well,” Harvey said. “Watching Jake last night and going over the scouting report, if I could locate (the fastball), we would be okay.”
His truncated line looked very nice throwing 5.2 innings two runs on five hits and six strikeouts and now he’s 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA.
See fitting in nicely.
And if you want to find a silver lining in having two major surgeries in three years is that Harvey looks more mature out and maybe a bit humbler. He no longer is throwing with adrenaline and trying to get outs by overpowering hitters. Rather, Harvey looks like he’s developing into a pitcher, who is learning that outs can be achieved by hitting corners and changing speeds, not just with high 90s fastballs and mid 90s sliders.
“It’s been a work in progress,” he said. “It’s definitely fun to have good results. You just need to keep your head down and keep working.”
That’s the Matt Harvey the Mets need this year. With Bartolo Colon now in Atlanta, Harvey is the old man on the staff, coming up in 2012. Even though he’s still figuring things out, the righthander can be an example to pitchers like Rob Gsellman and Zack Wheeler, both of whom are just learning how to win in the majors.
There’s still plenty of season left and Harvey will have his ups and downs. But everything has been going so well through two starts. The need to ride the momentum of this game.
Harvey needs to bring the same intensity against the Marlins on Sunday and the Mets need to ride the 20-hit and 14-run barrage into tomorrow, as Wheeler looks to redeem himself from his rough outing on Friday.
Which is why you can understand the collective gasp. Sure this cramp may be nothing, but the Mets know what like is without Matt Harvey and they are better when he is pitching at full power.