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 21st start on the road against the Nationals. You can read about his last start here.
With the All-Star game in the rear view mirror, and all the magazines published and features written, Harvey’s focus for the rest of the season was now fully on finishing off the dominant season he was authoring on the mound. Even though he didn’t have the W-L record to go with it, Harvey’s 2.23 ERA and 2.08 FIP put him firmly in the NL Cy Young conversation, though Clayton Kershaw was probably still the front-runner for most people, as he was sporting absurd 1.96 ERA in late July.
Harvey had work to do to overcome Kershaw in the second half, and he got off to a great start with his first second half outing against the Phillies. His next start came in the second game of a twin bill against the Nationals.
The Mets had beaten down the Nats in the first game of the doubleheader by a score of 11-0. It was another victory in what was turning out to be a nice little July for the Mets. In fact, the Mets were 21-13 in their last 34 games dating back to Super Tuesday and, after their Game 1 win here, had improved to 46-53, getting to within six games of .500 for the first time since May 12, after bottoming out at 15 games below .500 before the Super Tuesday doubleheader in Atlanta.
It wasn’t just white noise, either. In a rebuilding year where they were trying to find some answers, they were finally starting to find some. Suddenly, the pieces of the next great Mets team were starting to fall in to place. Juan Lagares was surprisingly emerging as an elite center field defender. Daniel Murphy and David Wright were the reliable veteran stalwarts. Bobby Parnell was emerging as a legitimate late-inning bullpen option. Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese proved solid rotation pieces behind the ace Matt Harvey, with names like Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud on their way. The light at the end of the tunnel was now visible, and it started with Harvey.
Harvey started the nightcap against the Nats with a flourish, retiring the side in order on just six pitches in the first inning, and he was off once again.
Harvey was his metronomically dominant self, mowing down the Nats hitters, but the Mets struggled to do anything against Nationals starter Ross Ohlendorf until the fourth inning. Josh Satin doubled to right field with one out, and then two batters later, John Buck doubled him home to put the Mets up 1-0.
On this night, it looked like one run was all Harvey needed. He had allowed just two hits and struck out four through his first four innings, but ran in to trouble in the fifth. Jayson Werth led off the inning with a bloop single over shortstop, and then Harvey issued his first free pass of the night to Ian Desmond to put two on with nobody out.
Harvey would bounce back and fan Steve Lombardozzi, and then induce a ground ball from Wilson Ramos that should’ve been an inning-ending double play to shortstop, but a needlessly rushed throw from Daniel Murphy on the turn to first was wild. It pulled Satin off the bag and actually hit the runner, bouncing away from everyone, and allowing Werth to score an unearned run to tie the game at 1-1.
Harvey got the opposing pitcher to bounce out to end the threat, but Harvey’s teammates were once again letting him down.
He’d bounce back by tossing an easy and scoreless sixth, and followed that with an easy, eight-pitch seventh inning. At just 84 pitches through seven, and still trying to keep the game tied at one, Terry Collins had no reason to pull his starter. Collins sent him back out for the eighth, and Harvey backed his manager’s decision by tossing a perfect eighth inning. At 99 pitches, Harvey could’ve been sent back out for the ninth as well, but Collins opted instead for LaTroy Hawkins instead.
That ended Harvey’s night, and all he did was toss another phenomenal start. The one run the Nationals eked out against him was unearned. He delivered eight strong innings, scattering five hits and a walk, while striking out seven. His ERA was lowered to 2.11.
The Mets offense had no answers for Ross Ohlendorf and the Nationals bullpen, though. That means that Harvey departed without a chance to win, and Hawkins came on in the bottom of the ninth trying to send the game to extras.
He couldn’t. Ryan Zimmermann cranked a walk-off homer to right-center, and the Nationals won 2-1. It was another wasted Harvey gem. His next start would come against his nemesis, the Miami Marlins, in Miami.