After a shaky start to the season, Matt Harvey pitched his second consecutive gem on Sunday. But for his second straight start, the Mets' offense had little to offer, as New York fell to the Marlins, Jose Fernandez, and his 14 strikeouts by a 1-0 score.
Through his first 10 starts, Harvey owned an ugly 3-7 record and a somehow uglier 6.08 ERA. On Monday his seven shutout innings guided the Mets to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox, much to the relief of the ever growing population of Panic Citi. But perhaps the real test came on Sunday, when the big righty had to prove his improvements by duplicating his success.
Duplicate he did. Harvey again went seven strong, his only blemish an RBI single off the bat of Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto after Derek Dietrich smacked a double to deep right-center in the fifth. Though he didn't strike out a ton of batters—three—the starter also walked zero, throwing 70 of his 104 pitches for strikes and yielding just four hits. No Marlin outside of Dietrich advanced beyond first base as Harvey lowered his ERA to 4.95.
Unfortunately for the Mets, Dietrich's trip around the bases was enough for a sweep-preventing Miami victory thanks to the dominance of Fernandez. The 23-year-old tied a career high with 14 strikeouts, and an astonishing 12 of them came on his filthy "slurve." Fernandez surrendered four hits and walked none against a Mets lineup that's been thinned thanks to a recent rash of injuries to Lucas Duda, David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares.
New York's only real threat came in the seventh, when Michael Conforto and James Loney hit consecutive singles to put runners on the corners with two outs. Fernandez struck out Wilmer Flores to end the threat and his day.
If there's a positive offensive takeaway from the loss, it's the gradual reintroduction of Conforto's bat to the ball. The 23-year-old snapped a brutal 1-for-30 stretch on Saturday with a game-tying RBI single, his second run driven in on the day. In addition to his base hit in the seventh inning on Sunday, in the fifth Conforto ripped a liner to deep right field that looked like a sure extra-base hit until Ichiro Suzuki, starting for a resting Giancarlo Stanton, robbed the Mets left fielder with a full-speed leaping catch toward the outfield fence.
After Harvey, Antonio Bastardo set down his first two batters before allowing an infield single to Ichiro. The Mets lefty picked the 42-year-old off to end the eighth.
In relief of Fernandez, David Phelps and closer A.J. Ramos were perfect in the eighth and ninth innings. With two outs in the top of the final frame, Neil Walker sent an offering to the center field warning track where it was caught by a darting Marcell Ozuna, securing the 1-0 win and the save for Ramos.
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Win Probability Added
Big winners: Matt Harvey, +18.8% WPA
Big losers: Asdrubal Cabrera, -15% WPA; Wilmer Flores, -12.1% WPA; Rene Rivera, -11.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: James Loney singles in the seventh to advance Michael Conforto to third, +5.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: J.T. Realmuto singles to score Derek Dietrich in the fifth, -12.5% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +21.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -71.6% WPA
GWRBI!: J.T. Realmuto