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 25th start on the road against the Padres. You can read about his last start here.
In all started on April 3rd, 2013, when Matt Harvey faced the Padres for his first start of the year. Harvey electrified Citi Field, pitched seven shutout innings against, and caught the eyes of Mets fans everywhere. That was when people first took notice of this Harvey kid.
By August 18th of that year, Harvey was established as one of the best starting pitchers the game had to offer, and now had a second crack at the San Diego Padres. This time it would come on a sun-bathed, 72-degree Sunday afternoon in San Diego, quite the contrast from his first start in frigid, windy, early-April conditions at Citi Field.
The Padres were having a very similar season to the Mets. They sat at 55-68 coming into this game; the Mets were at 56-65. The Mets had taken the first two games of this four-game series, but dropped the third game on Saturday. They still had a chance to take three off four, though, with a win on Sunday with their ace on the mound against Eric Stults of the Padres.
The Mets spotted Harvey a run in the first inning on a Marlon Byrd double, the second straight start in which Harvey had a lead before ever throwing a pitch.
And, as he usually did, Harvey made it stick. He worked around a double to toss a scoreless first inning, and then followed that by striking out the side in the second.
He continued to throw up zeroes in the third and fourth, though the Padres managed a few more hits in the third, so they were already having more success off Harvey than they did back in April, when they mustered only one hit.
When Harvey went to the mound in the fifth, he was now nursing a 2-0 lead. But the inning got off to a shaky start. Harvey’s first pitch of the frame was a curveball that got away and hit Logan Forsythe in the elbow. The next batter, Nick Hundley, popped a 1-2 curveball into shallow right field that just eluded the dive of Justin Turner at second and fell for a bloop hit.
Harvey would get the pitcher to bunt into a sacrifice for the first out, but that brought up Met Killer Will Venable up with two in scoring position. Venable tapped a curveball that would’ve been in the dirt if he didn’t swing and hit a high Baltimore chop, but it bounced over Harvey’s head and in front of Turner, who was playing back, at second, and Venable beat it out at first.
Harvey was getting unlucky twice this inning, and now allowed a run because of it. The next batter, Alexi Amarista, hit a sac fly to center field to score the tying run. It took them a combined 12 innings of facing Harvey to do it, but the Padres had finally broken through against the Mets young ace.
Harvey would find his way through the fifth, and would bounce back with a strong sixth inning to keep the game tied at two. In the top of the seventh, Harvey’s spot was due up with a runner on second, and Collins decided to pinch hit for Harvey with Andrew Brown, which ended Harvey’s afternoon at just 86 pitches, but it had to be done.
Brown came through with an RBI double to give the Mets the lead back and put Harvey in line for the win, believe it or not.
Of course, the bullpen wouldn’t hold it. Gonzalez German would allow the Padres to tie it in the eighth on an infield hit, and then Pedro Feliciano—yes, that one—who you may remember had re-joined the Mets in late 2013 after a few years away from the team and recovering from shoulder surgery, served up a walk-off home run to Venable in the 10th inning, because of course it was Venable.
Harvey’s line in this one was not bad, but was a fairly pedestrian outing for him. He completed those six innings allowing six hits, two runs, and six strikeouts. The two runs can be hand-waved as fairly unlucky, but the strikeout numbers were starting to come down for him as the season wore on; this was his third straight start with six Ks or fewer. He had only struck out double digits once in his last eight starts after doing it five times in his first 17 starts.
Harvey’s ERA now sat at 2.25 through 25 starts. His next start would be a showdown at Citi Field against the AL Cy Young favorite, a young breakout star for the Tigers by the name of Max Scherzer.