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.
Coming off his complete game shutout, Harvey looked to keep his dominant second half going against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Back in April, the Dodgers were the first team in 2013 to put up a crooked number against Harvey, but Harvey had a chance for revenge in this one, pitching Dodger Stadium for the first time in his career.
Since that start, the Dodgers had taken off. They came into this game at 68-50, comfortably on top of the NL West. In the time since the Mets last saw them, they had found a new star, a 22-year-old rookie phenom named Yasiel Puig. The young Cuban defector was hitting .371/.435/.591 over his first 262 PAs since his call-up in June, and provided an infusion of energy and excitement to a Dodgers franchise which had gotten fairly stale and boring in recent years. He had given that fanbase the type of jolt that Harvey had given the Mets.
The Dodgers were riding high on the back of Puig, and were in-line for their first division title since 2009. On this night, they sent Hyun-Jin Ryu, another exciting rookie performing well for them, to the mound against Harvey.
The Mets got to Ryu first. Juan Lagares tagged a solo shot to left field to give the Mets the early 1-0 lead. Harvey took the mound in the bottom half and picked up right where he left off in his last start, striking out two in a perfect first frame.
It turned into a pitcher’s duel from there. The score remained 1-0 into the fifth inning. Harvey had allowed three hits and a walk—just his second free pass of the second half so far—though he hadn’t struck anyone out since the first inning, and needed three double plays to escape the second, third, and fourth innings respectively. Ryu had also allowed a few hits through the first four, but had similarly skated around danger since the first inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, though, the Dodgers continuously putting the ball in play started to pay off for them. A one-out walk to AJ Ellis, Harvey’s second of the game, was followed by a Juan Uribe single that advanced Ellis to third. The Dodgers were threatening yet again.
Harvey needed another double play ball, and he had light-hitting Nick Punto coming up to try to induce it from. Instead, though, Punto laced a double the other way down the left field line. Both runners scored, and the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead. Harvey would navigate his way through the inning by striking out Ryu and then getting a flyout from Carl Crawford, but at this point he was clearly not on his game.
And that became even more evident in the sixth, when the Dodgers got another rally going against him. A leadoff single by Mark Ellis and a one-out single by Puig set the Dodgers up with another threat. Harvey got Skip Schumaker to ground out to first for the second out, moving both runners up to second and third, but also giving himself a pathway through the inning.
However, he couldn’t take advantage. Ellis bounced a ball past a diving Justin Turner at third—a ball David Wright might’ve gotten to—which scored both runners. It was now 4-1 Dodgers, and Harvey was handed a four-spot for just the third time this season.
Harvey got Uribe to pop out to end the frame, but that signaled the end of his night. He pitched six innings, but allowed those four runs on eight hits and two walks, both of which were the most he had allowed in a start since July. What’s more, he only struck out three batters, which was the lowest for any start of his in the 2013 season, and matched his career-low.
It’s also fair to say that his line could’ve been way worse if he didn’t get fortunate with those double play balls early in the game. The Dodgers were obviously a very good team, but this was not at all a vintage Harvey outing. They were hitting the ball hard and making lots of contact. Something seemed like it might be a little off with Harvey.
The Mets lost this game, 4-2, and Harvey was charged with his fourth loss of the season. Funnily enough, he was 2-3 with two no-decisions in in his last seven starts, despite a 2.77 ERA over that span.
This start raised Harvey’s season ERA from 2.09 to 2.23. He was going in the wrong direction if he wanted to catch Kershaw.