For a good team, meaningful games. For the worst ones, meaningless call ups. For a Mets team limping in the right direction, fresh faces to smile at, old problems to endure.
Matt Harvey, in what was likely his third-to-last start of the season, looked like the young pitcher he is, with shades of the monster within. He can sure throw hard. Ninety-seven and ninety-eight were the order of the day, and Harvey gunned down his second batter, Matt Carpenter, going hard, high, and outside.
The Cardinals, though, are a great-hitting team, and starting in the second inning they simply knocked the outside pitch to the opposite field. Yadier Molina, leading off, grounded his 1000th career hit into the hole for Ruben Tejada to nearly make a spectacular play. (Murph came an inch off the bag.) David Freese singled on a two-strike heater, and after a passed ball, the first run scored on a virtually identical two-strike oppo shot from Schumaker. Harvey to this point was all fastballs and sliders, with everything away. Daniel Descalso scooped a nice low pitch into center field to score the second run, and a bunt by the pitcher Jaime Garcia was the first out recorded. When Harvey went inside, he nipped the uniform of John Jay. When he persisted inside -- after a sac fly scored the third run -- he placed a 98-mph fastball about 10 inches from Matt Holliday's head. But give the boy credit; Harvey stayed inside for four consecutive pitches and finally got the All-Star to fly out.
The Mets, for their part, could hit. They couldn't score. First David Wright, then Jason Bay, then Tejada bopped lone and uninspiring safe ones, Bay's a tortoise-type roller the third baseman just watched. Not until the fifth inning did the Mets seem to threaten with Scott Hairston and Daniel Murphy both aboard, but the generous strike zone of plate umpire David Rackley -- at 1st base for yesterday's controversy -- victimized Kelly Shoppach and Bay, who both stood still as the fist pumped. Elsewhere it was double plays what did it, and in fact the Mets' lone run wouldn't have scored had Wright's 8th inning grounder been fielded and turned. 9 hits, one run was what we had at the conclusion, and the knowledge that Harvey needs to learn to hit the curve ball.
In the third inning, he finally threw the curve ball. If his first adjustment was to go inside, the third inning said to him, use the slow stuff. And lo and behold, his heater was getting swinging strikes again. Harvey's command was a touch off, however, and he walked a pair in the fourth and another batter in the fifth inning, his last. After the game Harvey called the start "crap." Take it in stride, rook; you're learning. We love you. We watched this damn game for you. The 23 year old finished with three strikeouts, three walks, six hits, and three earned runs.
New call-up Justin Hampson got a little work out of the pen, as did old hang-around Ramon Ramirez. But time stopped for the major league debut of Jeurys Familia, the third man of the Harvey-Wheeler-Familia troika that gives us hope, so that we might live. Familia has been a starter nearly his whole minor league career, with scouting reports employing words like "electric" and "wow, that's a ton of walks." In 137 innings in Buffalo, he's walked 73 batters, struck out 128, and pitched to a 4.73 ERA. Not a finished product, many believe the 22 year old's arsenal best-suited for bullpen work, and he got off to a fast start, blowing away Lance Berkman with a 96-mph bolt up and way. Two ground balls followed, the first finding a gap and the second turned across the diamond for the inning-ending double play. He looked good. A strong start.
A bad second half. A bright future.
Big winner: David Wright, +5.4% WPA
Big loser: Ronny Cedeno, -10.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Murph's 4th inning single with one on, one out, +3.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Cedeno's DP ball tied with Shoppach striking out looking after Murph's single, -4.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -18.2%
Total batter WPA: -31.8%