Here at Amazin’ Avenue, we’re marking the 10-year anniversary of Matt Harvey’s transcendent 2013 season by spending the year looking back at each of his amazing 26 starts that season, one by one, on the anniversary day of each start. We’ll re-live one of the best pitching seasons in Mets history, from its zenith to its tragic end.
Today, we continue the series with Harvey’s second start of the year, April 8 against the Phillies. You can read about his first start here.
Coming off the excitement and the buzz following his first start, Harvey’s first chance for an encore came in Philadelphia, where he’d be matched up against future Hall-of-Famer Roy Halladay.
Halladay, who seemingly always dominated the Mets, was coming off his poor 2012 season where he put up a shocking 4.49 ERA in 25 starts. The 36-year-old was obviously past his prime, but still seemed too young for his performance to completely drop off so suddenly, so a bounce back 2013 season seemed likely. However, when he allowed five runs to the Braves in his first start of the year, the alarm bells began to ring in Philadelphia again.
The last time Harvey had faced the Phillies was his final start of 2012, and he had possibly the best start of his 2012 season. On that night, Harvey tossed seven innings of one-hit ball while striking out seven, with the one hit being a solo leadoff homer by Jimmy Rollins. So the Phillies were already familiar with the dominance Harvey was capable of, and were now tasked with beating a leveled-up version of him.
That said, Harvey was not as dominant early on in this one as he was against the Padres. That’s not to say he was struggling, of course, but Harvey did allow a couple of baserunners and had *only* struck out three through the first three innings, which is only modest when compared to his first start.
The Phillies finally got to him in the fourth, though. A Rollins double, a Chase Utley infield single, and a Ryan Howard sac fly pushed across the first run Harvey allowed on the year. They weren’t stinging the ball, but they were getting their chances against the young ace, who was looking slightly more fallible than he was in his first start.
Harvey got through the fourth by striking out Michael Young and retiring Dominic Brown, but then promptly walked the first hitter he faced in the fifth inning on four pitches. John Buck went to the mound for a quick talk after that, and I don’t know what he said, but it worked. Harvey struck out the next three hitters on 11 pitches after the visit, with seven of those pitches resulting in swinging strikes.
Harvey was back in control.
He would pitch through the seventh, allowing only one more baserunner to reach on an error by Ike Davis. He struck out two more hitters to give him a total of nine on the night. He allowed only three hits and a walk in his seven innings of one-run ball. Josh Edgin followed with two shutout innings in relief.
On the other side, the Mets put the screws to Halladay. The Hall-of-Famer coughed up seven runs on six hits with three walks in just 4+ innings. This was, unfortunately, the last time Halladay ever faced the Mets. He would miss most of the 2013 season after having surgery to remove a bone spur in May, and would announce his retirement after the 2013 season ended.
Harvey, on the other hand, was on his way up. His second straight dominant start proved that his first start was not just a one-start fluke where the stuff looked better than usual. The gains were sustained, and he just outdueled one of the best pitchers of the last decade. And the league was starting to take notice.