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 15th start on the road against the Braves. You can read about his last start here.
Coming into the day on June 18th, the Mets sat at 25-40. They were just 3-10 in the month of June and sinking quickly. But the standings didn’t really matter. This team was not going anywhere. The focus of the season was finding the young pieces to build around for 2014 and 2015. They had found one in Matt Harvey, and they had another young pitching prospect about to come up from the minors named Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler was the prize of the 2011 trade of Carlos Beltran to the Giants. And before Harvey burst onto the scene in 2013, he was considered the future ace of the Mets. But now with Harvey establishing himself as an ace, the Mets suddenly had a potential two-headed monster that could anchor their rotation for years.
Wheeler was set to come up sometime in 2013, but it wasn’t clear when. Well, with a doubleheader scheduled for June 18th in Atlanta as a makeup game from early May, the Mets needed another starter. And a few days before, they announced that Wheeler would be taking that start, the first of his career.
As fate would have it, Harvey was also lined up to pitch on June 18th. So both young stalwarts would be lined up to pitch both ends of the doubleheader, setting the stage for a day-long showcase of exciting, young pitching. Suddenly the standings and the inept play of the team didn’t matter. This doubleheader in Atlanta would be what this season was all about: a look into the future of the organization. The hype around the Mets for days was all about what would happen on this Tuesday in Atlanta.
This day quickly became known as “Super Tuesday” for Mets fans. This is the day we had been waiting years for. This was the day the fruits of the last few years of bad baseball would bear. Some preferred to call in ‘Pitchmas,” but whatever you called it, the excitement was the same.
Harvey was given the start in the day game, and Wheeler would take the nightcap. The festivities kicked off at 1:10PM at Turner Field. Alex Wood got the start for the Braves for the first game and delivered a 1-2-3 top of the first. Then it was Harvey’s turn.
Harvey came out pumping heat with his fastball sitting at 97-100 MPH in the first inning. He blew away the leadoff hitter, Jordan Schafer, on three pitches, finishing him off with 97 MPH upstairs, and Harvey was off and running. He’d notch another K on a 100 MPH fastball to Jason Heyward to cap off a perfect first inning.
Those who watched this game may remember that the popping of John Buck’s glove sounded notably different in this one. Was it just the way SNY mic’d the field on this day? Probably. But the acoustics of Harvey and Wheeler making the glove pop in a different way than anyone had ever heard before definitely added to the pomp and circumstance of the day.
Harvey fanned his third batter in a 1-2-3 second inning. The Mets broke through against Wood in the third on a Marlon Byrd RBI single.
Harvey went back to the mound in the third, having been handed a 1-0 lead—which, after his last start against the Cardinals, he probably couldn’t take for granted—and walked the leadoff hitter, but struck out two more in the inning, both on 91 MPH sliders, to deliver another hitless frame.
After John Buck extended the Mets lead in the fourth to 2-0 with a solo homer, Harvey responded to the extra cushion by striking out the side, each batter on on a different pitch. The leadoff hitter, Heyward, chased a changeup in the dirt. Freddie Freeman then got beat on a 98 MPH fastball upstairs. And Chris Johnson fanned at a 3-2 slider to end the inning. All of Harvey’s pitches were working in this one, and all of them were weapons.
Harvey had struck out four in a row dating back to the third, and and he didn’t stop in the fifth. He got Gerald Laird to chase a 3-2 slider out of the zone to start the inning, and then struck out Dan Uggla on a curveball for his 10th strikeout of the game, and his sixth in a row. He’d get through the fifth perfectly, and once again, Matt Harvey was working on a no-hitter.
In the sixth, Harvey just continued to dominate. He struck out two more hitters, matching his career-high 12 Ks, and still had not allowed a hit after six.
Harvey went back out for the seventh with his pitch count at 87. The pitch count was definitely something to watch at this stage, but Harvey had already approached 120 pitches a few times this season; there was no reason to believe Terry Collins had any sort of hard leash for his ace out there if he was tossing a no-no.
Heyward led off the seventh inning. He was down 1-2 in the count, and weakly chopped a changeup on the outer half up the first base line. This is a play that is made probably 97% of the time at worst. But Lucas Duda, an inexperienced first baseman at the time, bailed on covering first to try to pick up the ball. Harvey got to the ball without a problem, though, and flipped it to first before he could see that nobody was there to catch it. The ball bounced pst an unoccupied first base, and Heyward slid in safely with the Braves’ first hit.
A silly mistake by an inexperienced first baseman on a play that should have been made, and just like that, Harvey had lost his no-hitter. It was the third no-hitter he had lost in the seventh inning that season, and the second one he lost on a fluky infield hit.
As he always did, Harvey rebounded from the disappointment to strikeout Freeman, Harvey’s 13th punchout of the game, as Buck nailed Heyward trying to steal second for a double play. Harvey would get through the inning without allowing anything else, but his pitch count was up to 103. You would think that would be the end of Harvey’s day now that the no-hitter was over, right? Especially after the Mets scored two more runs in the eighth to go up by a score of 4-0, rendering it no longer a high-leverage game?
Well, no. Collins, who almost never seemed to have a feel and constantly kept throwing Harvey out there when he was out of gas, let his young pitcher go back out there for the 8th at 103 pitches.
Harvey immediately looked out of gas to start the eighth, walking the first batter on four pitches. Did Collins pull Harvey there? Nope. He was left in to give up another single to Uggla.
Now at 111 pitches, was Harvey done there? Of course not. Harvey was once again left in to face Andrelton Simmons.
Simmons laced a single through the hole to load the bases. With Harvey at 116 pitches and the tying run now suddenly at the plate, Collins finally pulled his tiring starter and went to the bullpen.
LaTroy Hawkins came in relief and allowed all three of those inherited runs to score, putting blemishes on Harvey’s otherwise exquisite pitching line for the day. Bobby Parnell had to come in and put out the fire to escape with the 4-3 lead still in tact.
Parnell would fire a scoreless ninth inning to secure the win, which was way closer than it had to be, but the main story of the game was the dazzling performance by Harvey. His final line reflected those three runs, but he struck out a baker’s dozen while allowing three hits and three walks.
And miraculously, Harvey got the win. He had finally won another start. It was his sixth win, and his first in over a month.
All in all, Harvey had done it again, and put on a difficult act for Wheeler to follow in the nightcap.
Making his debut in his home state of Goergia, Wheeler faced off against Paul Maholm in Game 2. He’d go on to have inconsistent but solid major league debut. He walked five and surrendered four hits, but didn’t allow any of those baserunners to score and put up six shutout innings with seven strikeouts of his own.
The two young phenoms had struck out 20 Braves across 13 total innings pitched on the day.
The game was a scoreless duel until Anthony Recker blasted a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to give the Mets a 2-0 lead, and put Wheeler in line for the win. The Braves got a run back in the bottom of the seventh, but the Mets answered with four more in the eighth to go up 6-1 and put it out of reach.
Wheeler earned his first career win, and Super Tuesday had concluded with two wins in one day. It was a rousingly successful day for the Mets. It was such a success that even Sandy Alderson couldn’t help but tweet about it, in a tweet littered with Mets Memes from 2013:
.@MattHarvey33 & @Wheelerpro45 both won Tuesday. All of Western civilization was uplifted, including the Cougar Club.— Sandy Alderson (@MetsGM) June 19, 2013
The future had arrived. In a way, this day was the start of a new era for the Mets. Not only would the Mets start playing significantly better after this day over the rest of 2013, but this was the day the feeling around the Mets really started to change. It was no longer just a hopeless Harvey And Wright Show. The prospects were coming up now. The future was bright.
Baseball reference box score (Game 1)
Baseball reference box score (Game 2)