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 Harvey’s 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.
After the historically good start to his 2013 season, Matt Harvey had come back down to Earth a bit in his last two starts against the Dodgers and Marlins, but he had a chance to right the ship coming back home to face the White Sox, who were the worst offense in the American League.
Due to a rainout in Atlanta and a few days off on the Mets schedule, Harvey was on seven days’ rest for this game. This was the longest layoff he’d had between starts so far, and it was going to be interesting to see how he responded to some extra rest.
The listed first pitch time for this game was 7:10 PM, but at 7:09, the Mets had yet to take the field, which was a little unusual. For most games, the defense is usually on the field with the pitcher warming up by about two minutes before the scheduled first pitch. Sometimes games will start a few minutes late for one reason or another—for a broadcast issue or equipment issue or something benign of that nature—but nobody really knew why the team was late to take the field here.
7:10 went by, and still nobody was out there. 7:11, still no sign of anyone. The Citi Field PA was awkwardly just playing “Levels” by Avicii to kill the time. At 7:12, Harvey emerged from the clubhouse and into the Mets dugout, to which the team took as their signal to finally take the field and warm up. It appeared the delay was Harvey-related of some kind.
At 7:14 PM, Harvey finally delivered the first pitch of the game, a fastball in for a strike against Alejandro De Aza. Once the cameras zoomed in on Harvey, it became clear why he was late getting to the mound.
He had a bloody nose. It wasn’t really a big deal, but it was a little odd, even comical to see. Certainly not something you see every day. Harvey ignored the blood leaking from his nostrils to toss a perfect, 1-2-3 first inning with a strikeout, and then raced down the tunnel with Ray Ramirez to treat the nose.
By the time he went back to the mound in the second inning, it appeared to have stopped bleeding. It looked like they might have shoved some cotton-like object up his nose to stop it, which probably made it a little more difficult to breathe, but Harvey pressed forward regardless. He struck out two more in another 1-2-3 inning in the second.
The third inning was more of the same, another spotless inning for Harvey. It was 9 up, 9 down. Then Harvey followed with a perfect fourth inning. And then a fifth.
Well, here we go again.
Harvey was perfect through five. Suddenly this was Minnesota all over again, only this time Harvey was somehow even more dominant. He had struck out six through the first five innings, and had only reached one three-ball count. His pitch count was at 54 through five, a stark contrast to his last outing, and none of the balls put in play were struck particularly well.
The Tuesday night crowd of 23,394 at Citi Field was starting to get into it as Harvey took the mound for the sixth. He struck out the first hitter, Tyler Flowers, on four pitches. Dewayne Wise flew out, and then Harvey struck out the pitcher, Hector Santiago, on four more pitches.
Harvey was perfect through six, with eight punchouts and only 64 pitches thrown.
Harvey started the seventh with the crowd now hanging on every pitch, fully recognizing what was happening. Citi Field was once again being electrified by Matt Harvey. The seventh began with a strikeout of De Aza. Jeff Keppinger followed with a first-pitch groundout.
For the second time in less than a month, Harvey was through 6.2 and two-thirds hitless. But this time, he was working on a true perfect game. He was seven outs away from just the 23rd perfect game in baseball history, and the first in Mets history. If he could finish it off, Harvey would go down in Mets lore forever no matter what came next. And the way he looked on this night, there was every chance in the world of that happening.
Next up was Alex Rios. On 0-1, Rios grounded a ball in the 5.5 hole that Ruben Tejada had to go deep to get. Against the speedy Rios, Tejada didn’t have time to set, so he tried a jump throw across his body, and made a strong throw and accurate throw. But Rios was just too quick getting down the line, and beat it out by a half stride for a hit.
Ike Davis slammed his glove down. The crowd gasped, and then booed. A cheap infield hit ended the perfecto. It wasn’t fair, but once again, Harvey came seven outs shy of immortality.
With the perfect game and no-hit bid over, Harvey received a nice standing ovation from the Citi Field faithful, but he once again didn’t let the disappointment get to him. He promptly struck out Adam Dunn to end the inning, his 10th of the game.
At this point, with history out the window, the goal became to simply win the game, and the Mets offense had yet to hold up their end of the bargain. Santiago was throwing a gem on the other side, and the Mets were being shutout themselves through seven, with only four hits.
Harvey, with his pitch count still low, went out for the 8th, and had a quick 1-2-3 inning. At 87 pitches through eight, he could finish this thing if the Mets could just score for him.
So Harvey went back out for the ninth still trying to hold the scoreless tie for one more inning. This was uncharted waters for Harvey, who had never pitched into the ninth in his brief MLB career, but on this night, it didn’t matter. He was clearly operating on another level that even he hadn’t reached yet. For as good as his first few starts were, this was even better. This was becoming a legendary outing. Harvey was the best pitcher in the world on this night.
With the crowd roaring at the sight of him taking the mound for the ninth, Harvey got Wise to fly out to start the ninth, struck out Jordan Danks, and then concluded an eight-pitch battle—the longest at bat off him all night—against De Aza by ringing him up on a 3-2 fastball.
It was his 12th strikeout on his 105th pitch, and that was the end of his night. He didn’t walk anyone. He had just two three-ball counts all night long. The only hit in the nine innings he pitched was the infield bleeder. It doesn’t go in the books as a perfect game, but this was as perfectly as anyone could pitch. Harvey’s season ERA was lowered to 1.28.
The Mets still had a chance to at least get Harvey a win if they could walk it off in the ninth.
So the game went to the 10th, and Harvey got a no-decision for his historic start.
Bobby Parnell delivered a 1-2-3 10th inning, and the Mets were finally able to push a run across in the bottom half on a Mike Baxter walk off double. The Mets won, but Harvey’s record still remained at 4-0. This was the first time in the modern era that a pitcher had ever gone 9+ innings with 12 strikeouts while allowing only one hit and wound up with a no-decision. Harvey was making history, but his teammates were making the opposite kind of history.
Regardless, the last two so-so starts were now a distant memory. Matt Harvey was once again the talk of baseball, and now it was undeniable: he wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Now it was clear that this guy could be not just an ace, but the best pitcher of a generation.
With this season now taking the shape of a truly historic one, Chris McShane thought it prudent to start tracking Harvey’s incredible season start-by-start. It’s cool to look back on these recaps now, as it functions almost as a time capsule to see some deeper digging on each start and what kind of analysis was being done at the time.
Harvey’s Baseball Reference game score for this start was 97, making him the fifth Mets pitcher to ever record a game score that high, and the first since David Cone in 1991. Jacob deGrom’s 15-strikeout complete game in April 2021 is the only Mets start to surpass that game score since. If the Mets had scored a run before the 10th inning and allowed Harvey a complete game, it would’ve been the 25th nine-inning one-hitter by a single pitcher in franchise history, and it would’ve been only the second one in 51 seasons that featured 12+ strikeouts and no walks. R.A. Dickey had the first one the year prior.
Anyway you slice it, this was one of the best pitched games in Mets history, and it became forever known as the “bloody nose game” because of Harvey’s nosebleed in the first inning. Ask any Mets fan about the “bloody nose game” and they’ll instantly know what you’re talking about. Of Harvey’s entire 2013 season, and maybe his entire career, this is the start people come back to the most.
For whatever reason, the image of Harvey’s bloody nose resonated with people, and it remains probably the most iconic image of his breakout season. There’s just something very intimidating about a pitcher mowing down hitters while blood is squirting out of his nostrils. It was a great representation of the type of infallible, no-nonsense bulldog he was out there.
However, a decade later, the bloody nose is not as easy to fondly look back on, because we now have more information. In 2019, Harvey admitted under oath during the trial of Eric Kay that he used cocaine throughout his time in New York, and used it in the dugout and in the clubhouse during games while he played for the Mets.
Nobody can say for sure what actually caused this particular nosebleed on this day, but nosebleeds are common among people who use cocaine, and this happened again to Harvey in a game he pitched against the Dodgers in 2015. Even if these mid-game nosebleeds weren’t due to the drug use, it’s hard not to make the connection in your mind.
Harvey’s recreational drug use in New York developed into a serious problem when he played for the Angels and started using opioids supplied to him by Kay, who also distributed those drugs to Tyler Skaggs, which led to Skaggs’ overdose and untimely death in 2019. Harvey was suspended 60 games in 2022 as a result of his admission that he shared some of his pills with Skaggs as well.
So now, the bloody nose game feels different to reminisce about. Ten years later, the bloody nose feels less like an image of a badass, infallible pitcher, but rather an image of a very fallible, deeply-human 24-year-old.
With Harvey having announced his retirement on Friday, it feels particularly poignant to look back at this game now, as it’s not only the best game he ever pitched, but it represented everything Harvey was: a shooting star of unbridled talent who had the biggest city in the world in the palm of his hand, with a subtle reminder of what that can do to a person sitting right there on his face.