Despite a recent stretch of starts full of longballs, Matt Harvey's return from Tommy John Surgery has gone swimmingly: lots of strikeouts, few walks, and filthy stuff. He might not be the 2013 version of Harvey (yet), but he's missing bats and throwing 99 mph. I think he'll get there. Bobby Parnell's return from Tommy John Surgery has not gone quite as smoothly: shaky rehab appearances, reduced velocity, and a lack of command. I'm not as confident that Parnell will return to his strong 2011-2013 form. Tonight, both were heroic, with Harvey throwing seven shutout innings and Parnell bailing out Carlos Torres to record a five-out save. Perhaps Parnell can shore up a depleted and overworked bullpen this summer.
Harvey was in control from the start. He sent down the Blue Jays 1-2-3 in the first inning, and only allowed four total baserunners on the night. He struck out six Blue Jays and walked none, generating a terrific 15 swinging strikes over 107 pitches. The hardest hit balls on the night were an Edwin Encarnacion double in the second inning and a Jose Bautista triple in the sixth inning. Encarnacion was erased when he inexplicably tried to reach third base on a grounder to shortstop, and Bautista was stranded at third when Harvey got Encarnacion to ground out.
Harvey's game score was 75, good for his third best mark of the season. Oh, and on top of his pitching dominance, he drove in one of the Mets' three runs with a rocket RBI double off Blue Jays starter Scott Copeland in the second inning. Harvey has a reputation as a good hitting pitcher, largely due to his 2-for-2 performance at the plate in his MLB debut, but he's basically been terrible since then. If he can get it going, he'd join Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to form a trio of pitchers who've shown some ability at the plate in their young careers.
Carlos Torres started the eighth inning in relief of Harvey with a 3-0 lead. It would not be a fun night for him. All four batters he faced reached base. The only out he recorded was a gift from an out-to-lunch Kevin Pillar, who dashed from first base to third base on a Jose Reyes single, only to find his teammate Ryan Goins still occupying third. Parnell entered with the bases loaded, one out, and the 3-0 lead intact, but with the heart of the Blue Jays' order due up.
Things did not look promising, with the questionable Parnell set to face Bautista and Encarnacion and Jeurys Familia unavailable in case of emergency. Bautista's two home runs on Monday night must have been on the minds of other Mets fans besides myself. However, Parnell got Bautista to hit a shallow sacrifice fly for the second out, a reasonably acceptable outcome all things considered. Things became dicey once again when Encarnacion singled home another run to bring the Jays within one. Parnell found his good stuff, though, and struck out Chris Colabello on a sharp breaking ball to end the frame with the Mets' lead intact.
Parnell's velocity was in the low-to-mid 90s, down from the high 90s to which we've been accustomed. It also looked like, at times, that he had no idea where the ball was going. So bringing him back out for the ninth inning clinging to the one-run lead didn't induce confidence. But he silenced the grumblers, sending the Blue Jays down 1-2-3 for a stress-free ninth. Game over. It was a nice moment for Parnell.
A few bullet points:
- Wilmer Flores was probably the Mets' best hitter on the night, going 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored, and a sacrifice fly. Ruben Tejada added an RBI single, and there was also the aforementioned RBI double from Harv.
- Juan Lagares had a great shot to catch Bautista's triple in the sixth inning that reached the warning track. I'd dare say that 2014 Lagares would have caught it with ease. He's still fantastic defensively, but he looks a little off, lately.
- That baserunning blunder by the Jays in the eighth inning was one part of a trifecta of suck. First, Carlos Torres threw a horrendous 0-2 pitch right down the middle that Jose Reyes ripped into right field. Then, Curtis Granderson noodle-armed the ball to the infield. Finally, Pillar stopped paying attention between second and third base, possibly costing his team the game in the process.
- These Blue Jays swing hard. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion -- they don't get cheated and it's great fun to watch.
- Another win, another +1 addition to the Mets' run differential, which now sits at +2.
The Mets are 36-30, 1.5 games ahead of the Nationals in the NL East (the Nats crushed the Rays 16-4 tonight). The four-game series with the Blue Jays heads to Toronto, with games on Wednesday and Thursday at the Rogers Centre. Wednesday's game starts at 7:07 ET, with a pitching matchup of Jon Niese vs Drew Hutchison.
Three Stars of the Game
First Star: Matt Harvey
Third Star: Wilmer Flores
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Matt Harvey +38.3% (as pitcher and hitter), Bobby Parnell +19.9%
Big losers: Carlos Torres -12.6%, Dilson Herrera -9.9%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Matt Harvey RBI double in the second inning, +10.5%
Teh sux0rest play: Edwin Encarnacion RBI single in the eighth inning, -10.4%
Total pitcher WPA: +35.6%
Total batter WPA: +14.4%
GWRBI!: Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly in third inning