There's a good chance no pitcher in MLB will throw as dominant a game this season as Matt Harvey threw tonight. The Mets ace retired 27 of the 28 batters he faced, 12 of them via strikeout. He issued no walks, allowed a lone infield single, and generally tied White Sox batters up in knots all night on his way to pitching nine shutout innings. His game score of 97 is tops in MLB this season and would have trailed only the perfect games thrown by Matt Cain (101 game score) and Felix Hernandez (99 game score) last season.
The Mets offense did not score any runs for Harvey, denying him a "win." However, we don't much care about pitcher W-L record around these parts, with tonight's game a fine example as to why. Bobby Parnell was awarded the "win" by pitching a scoreless inning of relief in the top of the tenth inning before Mike Baxter's pinch-hit single drove home Ike Davis in the bottom of the tenth to end it. Much like on 6/1/2012, Baxter came through on a night featuring a historic pitching performance.
Lingering concerns about Harvey's laborious start last week, as well as the extra days off since that start, were diminished early on in tonight's contest. He came out throwing hard and he came out throwing strikes. Harvey touched 98 mph with his fastball and sat in the mid-to-high 90s. He was throwing so hard, his nose started bleeding in the first inning:
He needed just 54 pitches to make it through the first five innings tonight, and 40 of those pitches went for strikes. Compare to his last start, when he need 121 pitches to get through 5.1 innings. The first 20 White Sox batters Harvey faced all failed to reach base. Alex Rios broke up the perfect game with an infield single to shortstop on which Ruben Tejada made a nice effort. Rios was safe at first base on a bang-bang play. The next seven White Sox batters went down quietly. 28 up, 27 down.
Here are a few stats from tonight to put Harvey's performance in perspective:
- Swinging-strike rate of 15.2% (league-average rate = 9.2%)
- Strike rate of 72.3% (league-average rate = 63.1%)
- First-pitch strike rate of 71.4% (league-average rate = 59.8%)
It was a tremendous night for Harvey and it's fun that Dwight Gooden is also watching:
KKKKKKKKKKKK #MATTHARVEYKCOUNT— Dwight Gooden (@DocGooden16) May 8, 2013
Harvey overshadowed the strong performance of White Sox starting pitcher Hector Santiago. The Newark native held the Mets lineup scoreless in seven innings of work, striking out eight in the process. The Mets twice put two runners on base in an inning against Santiago but were unable to break through against him. If there was a batting hero in the Mets' starting lineup, it was Ike Davis, who went 1-for-3 with a walk. That's a big game for Ike these days.
The Mets finish up the two-game series with the White Sox on Wednesday night at 7:10 pm. The pitching matchup will be Jeremy Hefner vs Jake Peavy. next start is scheduled for Sunday afternoon against the Pirates, if you were wondering.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Matt Harvey +64.4% (as pitcher), Mike Baxter +31.1%
Big losers: John Buck -16.1%, Lucas Duda -13.0%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Mike Baxter game-winning RBI single in tenth inning +31.1%
Teh sux0rest play: Ruben Tejada ground out in second inning -6.1%
Total pitcher WPA: +77.0%
Total batter WPA: -27.0%
GWRBI!: Mike Baxter game-winning RBI single in tenth inning