New York – Matt Harvey took the mound Tuesday night at Citi Field in the first inning with a bleeding nose. The New York Mets 24-year old right hander, known as their new franchise, said he had occasional bleeds from the nose when he was younger. It never had an impact on what he has to do on the mound.
The Chicago White Sox, making their first appearance in New York opposing the Mets, may have hoped that Harvey would not be able to continue. In his 17th big league start, Harvey came close to a no-hitter, and was perfect for 6-2/3 innings before Alex Rios singled to shortstop.
Harvey set a career high in strikeouts, 12, and in innings with nine. Off the bench, Mike Baxter singled home Ike Davis with one out in the 10th inning giving New York a 1-0 win over Chicago in the first of a two-game interleague series against Chicago.
“It was a good pitch, a slider away,” commented Harvey about the pitch to Rios. “Ruben, (Tejada) made an awesome attempt. It could have gone either way. He made an awesome attempt. I appreciate it.”
Tejada did his best throwing deep from the position and Rios was safe. The slim crowd at Citi Field thought Harvey got the out. “I tried to do my best in that situation,” said Tejada who almost had a chance at getting Rios at first.
It was one of the magnificent nights again with Harvey on the mound. He electrifies the crowd, White Sox’ players as well as Harvey’s teammates were watching something special. Bobby Parnell (3-0) got the win and struck out two in the 10th.
“Seems every time we talk about this guy it’s something new and different,” said Mets manager Terry Collins about his starter. “To pound the strike zone like he did today, you don’t see young guys do that today.”
Harvey threw almost everything for strikes, 76 of them on 106 pitches. The fastball never went below 93. The change and curve were just as strong. But he did not take the mound for the 10th inning, as Collins said Harvey would not go over 105, this after throwing a career high 124 pitches in a no-decision against the Marlins in his last start.
“Everything was obviously working,” said Harvey who caused the game to be delayed five minutes because of the nose bleed. “It was the best I felt all year. It’s baseball, things like that happen,” commenting about the infield hit that came off a slider after throwing a fastball for a strike.
He added, “After last outing of 120 pitches, I think I realized I was finally done but it wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t expect to go more than nine innings. It was a win, that’s all that matters.”
He was the first pitcher to go 9.0 shutout innings or more, allowing one hit or less, striking out 10 or more, and receiving a no-decision since Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cordova on July 12, 1997. It was his fourth career double-digit strikeout game, second this season.
“Right off the bat when I was calling fastball he hit it, when I was calling curve ball he hit it,” said the catcher John Buck who added about Harvey, “He was hitting his spots. To have that many pitches with that many strikeouts, that’s being effective with your pitches.”
It was also the second time this season that Harvey came close to a no hitter. He held the Minnesota Twins hitless for 6/2-3 innings back on April 13th. Justin Morneau hit a home run off the foul pole to spoil that bid. He was pitching on six days of rest due to an off day and rainout in Atlanta this weekend, is 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA after seven starts.
So, when Harvey gets on the mound something historic is possible. There was a sense this was going to be a special night, perhaps the second no-hitter in Mets history after the first one thrown by Johan Santana last June at Citi Field.
The Mets allowed one base runner in 10 innings and only one other team, the Montreal Expos did that in a 1-0, 10-inning win over San Diego on June 3, 1995. White Sox starter Hector Santiago, a Mets fan growing up in Newark New Jersey, struck out a season high, eight over 7.0 shutout innings and did not figure in the decision.
“I felt fine and tried to do the same thing he was doing,” said Santiago about Harvey. “Everybody is watching this game now in the seventh inning he’s got something special going. Nate Jones, (0-3) gave up the RBI single to Baxter.
And indeed, once again the attention was on Harvey. The Mets wonder what will come next from the youngster. The fans at Citi Field, they have come to also expect the good results when Harvey takes the mound.
Baxter made it an extra special evening with the walk-off winning hit. But, it is Harvey that propels the energy. “When he goes out and throws like that he gives everybody energy,” said Baxter. “The key to him is that command. He set the tone early and it falls into place.”
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