Back in warm weather for the first time in over a week, the Mets were reeling coming off of what ended up as a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rockies. With the mighty Nationals up next on the schedule, talk centered on the exciting matchup of a pair of young aces, the Nats' Stephen Strasburg and the Mets' Matt Harvey who would meet for the first time on Friday. Both pitchers are 24-years old, both have first round pedigrees, and both are supremely talented, riding electric stuff to outstanding results on baseball's biggest stages. But only one could be victorious tonight and on this Friday, it was Matt Harvey who prevailed, leading the Mets to a victory over their division foes.
Thanks to a likely combination of the warm weather mixing with adrenaline, Harvey opened up the evening throwing gas. In striking out Denard Span to lead off the game, Harvey threw just three pitches, reaching back for 99 MPH on the third fastball of the at bat. In fact, Harvey reached back multiple times for extra velocity in that first frame, hitting 97 MPH six times, 98 MPH three times, and 99 MPH twice. The Nationals' hitters were unable to do much against Harvey through the first six innings, registering just a Strasburg double and a Span single. The Mets' offense, on the other hand, got off to a quick start when Jordany Valdespin reached on an Ian Desmond error and Daniel Murphy singled to right field, placing runners at the corners with nobody out. With David Wright batting, Strasburg uncorked a wild pitch to the backstop, scoring Valdespin from the third for the first run. After Wright flew out to right field and Ike Davis struck out, John Buck came up and lined a single into left field, scoring Murphy who'd moved up to third on Wright's flyout. Once Harvey went to work holding onto a 2-0 lead, the Mets would soon add a pair of runs in the sixth inning on solo home runs from Ike Davis, to left field, and Lucas Duda, to right center field. The home runs caused Mets fans to scream the words "HARVEY'S BETTER! HARVEY'S BETTER" at Strasburg.
Up 4-0 going into the top of the seventh, the Nats made Harvey prove he was better as he ran into what was his first real jam of the season. A leadoff walk to Adam LaRoche, followed by a Desmond single put a pair of runners on base for Chad Tracy, who lined a run scoring hit into left field. With the lead cut to 4-1 and still nobody out, Harvey induced a potential double play grounder from Steve Lombardozzi. In trying to rush the play, though, Daniel Murphy's flip to Ruben Tejada pulled the shortstop off the base, allowing everybody to reach safely. With the bases loaded, Kurt Suzuki stepped to the plate as the go-ahead run. Harvey began showing some signs of fatigue throughout the inning, hanging a few breaking pitches, but his fastball velocity still sat in the mid-90's. And that fastball is just what
Houdini Harvey used to get out of the bases loaded jam. Harvey got Suzuki to strike out, pulling the string on a lovely slider off the outside corner. Pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina received four 96 MPH fastballs from Harvey, popping the fourth up behind the plate for the second out. Finally, Harvey finished his tightrope act by getting Denard Span to weakly ground out to Daniel Murphy to end the inning, inducing a fistpump from the big righty and loud cheers from the Mets' fans at Citi Field.
With danger avoided, the Mets' big boppers went back to work in the eighth inning, as David Wright led off with a triple to center field against new pitcher Drew Storen. Ike Davis stepped up to the plate and ripped a laser beam down the right field line for his second home run, this one landing a few rows into the Pepsi Porch. Two batters later, Lucas Duda deposited his second longball into left center field, extending the lead to 7-1. Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell closed out the game with a scoreless, stress-free inning apiece, a welcome change from what they experienced earlier in the week in Colorado.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Matt Harvey 30.7%, Daniel Murphy 10.6%
Big losers: Stephen Strasburg -14.3%, Kurt Suzuki -13.7%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Daniel Murphy's first inning single to right field
Teh sux0rest play: Ike Davis' first inning strikeout
Total pitcher WPA: 34.5%
Total batter WPA: 15.5%
GWRBI!: John Buck