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 19th start on the road against the Giants. You can read about his last start here.
On July 6, the All-Star rosters for the game at Citi Field were revealed, and they, unsurprisingly, contained only two Mets: David Wright and Matt Harvey. Wright was selected to be the starting third baseman in his home park, while the starting pitcher was going to be the decision of the NL’s manager Bruce Bochy, but Harvey was considered the favorite over Clayton Kershaw.
Still, Harvey had a chance to boost his case against Bochy’s Giants. Coming off his rough start against the D-Backs, Harvey looked to end his first half on a much better note against the reigning World Champs, who were having a rough hangover season and came into this game at just 41-47. He’d face off against Tim Lincecum, who was once a young phenom just like Harvey, but who was now having his second straight subpar season and was displaying some concerning traits of decline.
Harvey started this game about the same way he ended his last start. Even though he struck out the first hitter he faced, he surrendered a base hit to Marco Scutaro and then a two-run bomb to Buster Posey. It was suddenly the third straight start that Harvey had allowed a home run after going over a month without allowing a single gopher ball, and the Mets were down 2-0 early.
Harvey would settle down, though, and strike out Pablo Sandoval to end the inning. He’d allow a nine-pitch walk to former Met Andres Torres and a wild pitch in the second, but didn’t allow a run, and then looked a lot more like Matt Harvey from there.
He would allow just two more baserunners against him until the seventh inning, and didn’t allow any of them to cross the plate. That allowed the Mets to chip away against the diminished Lincecum. A double by John Buck in the fifth scored a run for the Mets, and then they added two more in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead and give Harvey the edge.
Terry Collins, who seemed to never learn this lesson, let Harvey start the seventh inning with a staggering 107 pitches thrown. Again, I have to point out that it was a different era, but I really don’t know why Collins was going all out to win these games for a 2013 Mets team that was not supposed to win, and constantly pushing his best pitcher this way. It just wasn’t necessary.
If you’ve been reading every edition of this series, you know how this goes. Harvey allowed a first-pitch triple to Hunter Pence to lead off the seventh, and then a base hit to Brandon Crawford on the second pitch of the inning to allow the run to score and tie the game at 3.
Harvey would once again right the ship, getting a bunt groundout, strikeout, and a comebacker to get through the inning, but not before he racked up a pitch count of a season-high 121 pitches.
Harvey was finally done for the night after that. He finished allowing those three runs across seven innings, walking one and striking out six. It was a fine effort from Harvey all things considered, but it raised his ERA to a season-high 2.35. A few days later, the Mets announced that they would skip Harvey’s next start to allow him to pitch in the All-Star game.
That ended Harvey’s first half after 19 starts. Despite the bumpy last two starts, it was still one of the greatest first halves any Mets pitcher had ever had to that point. He was still on pace to finish in Seaver and Gooden territory if he could complete 32 starts.
The day before the All-Star Game, just hours before Wright would captain the NL team in the Home Run Derby in his home park, Bochy announced that Harvey would indeed be starting the All-Star game for the National League in front of his home fans.
This was a bigger deal to Mets fans that it probably should’ve been at the time, but it had been years since any Mets player was put on a national spotlight like this, and Harvey was doing it in the first All-Star game to be played in Queens since 1964. This was a point of pride for Mets fans in a way that’s harder to understand now. Mets fans just wanted to feel relevant again, and this was making them relevant. It’s also very rare for a pitcher to start the All-Star game in his first full season.
Harvey capped off that momentous day by appearing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in a skit where he asked Mets fans to give their opinion about Matt Harvey, with the fans not realizing they were talking to the man himself. It was a cute little skit that helped build his celebrity even more. Harvey was starting to really become a nationwide celebrity and not just a New York sports star. He had a chance to continue building his star the next day at the All-Star game.