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The Dark Knight Rises, 10 Years Later: Start #14

June 13, 2013: Matt Harvey pitches seven dominant innings, but takes his first loss.

St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets

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, start-by-start, from its zenith to its tragic end.

We continue today with his 14th start at home against the Cardinals. You can read about his last start here.


The back tightness that had ailed Harvey in his last start had subsided. He got through his bullpen during the week, and pronounced himself good to go for this Thursday afternoon start against the Cardinals. It was a rainy June afternoon, but the rain parted in time for two of the best pitchers in baseball to go head to head on this afternoon at Citi Field.

Harvey had already been in some heavyweight fights against other team’s aces in-division–most notably Roy Halladay, Stephen Strasburg, and Jose Fernandez–but this was his first battle against Adam Wainwright, who, for all intents and purposes was actually having a season just as dominant as Harvey’s. Wainwright entered this start with a 2.34 ERA and a microscopic 1.74 FIP. Perhaps most amazingly, Wainwright had allowed just two homers in his first 13 starts, and that gave Wainwright a 3.6 fWAR to edge out Harvey’s 3.3 fWAR coming into this game. Those were the two highest pitching fWARs in baseball to that point.

So the onus was on Harvey to once again prove who the better pitcher was. It should be noted that the Cardinals possessed one of the best lineups in baseball, and would go on to represent the NL in the World Series last year, while Wainwright had to face the 2013 New York Mets.

Harvey, looking like he knew he was in a heavyweight battle early on, was pumping his fastball at 97-98 MPH in the first inning, and the Cardinal hitters had no chance. Harvey breezed through the first inning on 10 pitches with two strikeouts.

Wainwright followed with a scoreless bottom half, and the pitcher’s duel was off and running. Harvey followed with a breezy 12-pitch second, and Wainwright fanned two in the bottom half. Harvey went back to work in the third and struck out the first hitter he faced, but Pete Kozma then laced a single into right field for the first hit off Harvey.

Wainwright bunted him over, and then Matt Carpenter lined a ball to right that Marlon Byrd couldn’t reach on a dive. It went all the way to the wall, Kozma scored, and Carpenter wound up at third with an RBI triple to take a 1-0 lead.

Harvey would bounce back by striking out Carlos Beltran to end the inning, but on this day, one run might’ve been enough. That idea was further cemented by Wainwright setting the Mets down in order in the bottom half.

From there, Harvey was pretty untouchable the rest of the way. He scattered a few hits and a walk over the next few innings, but the Cardinals never really threatened against him again. He finished seven innings on 97 pitches, and was done after that. He allowed just the one run on five hits and one free pass. He struck out seven Cardinals, and lowered his ERA to 2.08.

On the other side, well, Wainwright was just as good. The Mets broke through with their first hit against him in the fourth, but that was the first of only four hits he would allow, with two of them coming from David Wright. Waino surrendered two walks, with one of them an intentional walk to Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the bottom of the seventh to set up runners at first and second with two outs for the Mets, but Justin Turner grounded out to end the threat.

Wainwright completed his day after seven innings and 95 pitches. Overall, the two aces pitched about as evenly as they could’ve. Wainwright’s game score for this game was 73, while Harvey’s was 69. But most importantly, the Cardinals had the 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.

They made that a 2-0 lead in the eighth with an Allen Craig single off LaTroy Hawkins. The Mets were equally hopeless off Trevor Rosenthal in the bottom of the eighth, though Wright notched his third hit of the game in that inning. He now had three of the Mets five hits in this game.

The Mets still trailed 2-0 going to the bottom of the ninth, with only three outs to protect Harvey from his first loss of the 2013 season. Harvey’s undefeated season hung on the hopes of the Mets’ bats.

Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer in the ninth to get the Mets on the board, and then John Buck doubled to put the tying run in scoring position. But neither Nieuwenhuis nor Josh Satin could get him around, and the Mets fell 2-1. It wasn’t fair, but Harvey took his first loss of the season.

Knowing Harvey’s personality, it’s safe to assume he didn’t take losing this game to Wainwright and finally having a blemish on his record too kindly. It was just his second decision since April 19th.

The Mets, on the other hand, were now a season low 13 games under .500 and looking as listless as ever. Besides Harvey, nobody in the rotation could pitch, and besides Wright, nobody on the offense could hit. The team would sink to 15 games under .500 before Harvey’s next start, but they were getting an infusion of talent soon. Top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler was on his way up, and he was set to pair with Harvey atop the rotation for years to come. The Mets were going to call him up for the second game of a doubleheader in Atlanta in the coming week, and Harvey was set to start the first game.