PHOENIX â€” In all, this was an auspicious beginning for Matt Harvey, a strapping right-hander who has engendered much hope, intrigue and scrutiny this season, especially during the Metsâ€™ recent free fall.
Mets pitcher Matt Harvey throws his first pitch in his major league debut during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Making his major league debut Thursday against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, Harvey pitched five and a third scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out 11 during the Metsâ€™ 3-1 victory. The strikeout total set a team record for a pitcher during his debut, exceeding the eight recorded by Tom Seaver and Bill Denehy three days apart in 1967.
â€śHeâ€™s lived up to exactly what everybodyâ€™s talked about,â€ť Manager Terry Collins said. â€śNow we want him to go out the next time and be a little more comfortable and pitch as effectively as he did today.â€ť
For the most part, the 23-year-old Harvey looked plenty comfortable. After the win, which ended the Metsâ€™ six-game losing streak, Harvey was asked if there was a moment when he sensed he belonged in the major leagues. He said there was: before he had thrown a single pitch.
â€śWhen I was warming up, actually, I looked around and kind of took everything in, and at that moment, I really did believe I was meant to pitch in the big leagues,â€ť Harvey said.
Harvey struck out the first batter he faced, Gerardo Parra, with an 89-miles-per-hour slider. He continued from there, impressively dispatching the Diamondbacks and firing fastballs that were clocked as high as 98 m.p.h. He struck out Arizonaâ€™s third, fourth and fifth hitters a combined six times.
â€śObviously, due to the velocity throughout the first few innings, you could tell he was juiced up,â€ť Collins said. He added later, â€śI just hope everybody doesnâ€™t expect to see that electrifying stuff each and every night because I know a lot of it was the fact that this was his first game, and he wants to show people what he can do.â€ť
Everything seemed to go right for Harvey â€” and not just on the mound. In the second, he whacked a ball into center field that sailed over Parraâ€™s head. Harvey rumbled easily to second base for his first major league hit. In his next at-bat, he sent a ball just beyond second base for another base hit.
He became the first player since 1900 to have at least 10 strikeouts and at least two hits in his major league debut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Harvey was helped along by catcher Rob Johnson, who was also promoted from Class AAA this week. Johnson has become something of a mentor for Harvey, and the Mets thought he could help guide the young player through his first start. Johnsonâ€™s first trip to the mound occurred in the third after Harvey threw his second wild pitch of the inning, putting runners on second and third. Harvey then struck out Paul Goldschmidt with a 98-m.p.h. fastball to end the inning.
â€śHe has the ability to sit down big-league lineups,â€ť Johnson said after the game, shaking his head.
Harvey, who has had trouble with his control at times this year in Class AAA, did not allow his first walk until the fourth inning. He issued his second and third walks in the sixth, hastening his exit from the game.
Before the game, Collins said he was hoping for some positive effects from Harvey as the Mets â€” losers of 12 of their previous 13 games â€” tried to rebound from a disastrous homestand. As he left the game in the sixth, Harvey walked slowly to the dugout and received a round of applause from Mets fans scattered among the announced crowd of 22,010.
The Metsâ€™ hitters contributed to any positive feelings the club was having, as Harvey was given the gift of a lead before he took the mound. Scott Hairston slashed a two-run double off the right-field wall in the top of the first inning, and the Mets added another off Wade Miley, the Diamondbacksâ€™ left-handed starter, in the fourth on Johnsonâ€™s sacrifice fly.
Harveyâ€™s night was nearly sabotaged by the Metsâ€™ bullpen. Jon Rauch gave up a sacrifice fly to right field in the eighth, cutting the Metsâ€™ advantage to 3-1. Bobby Parnell then issued a pair of walks in the ninth, but he struck out Jason Kubel to end the game.
That allowed the Mets to enjoy their first win since July 19. His new teammates doused Harvey in beer after the game, and when he returned, soaked, to his locker, he had 76 text messages on his phone.
â€śItâ€™s great to know you have a young man like that because it just tells us the futureâ€™s bright,â€ť Collins said.
Amid the heat that settled thickly inside Citi Field late Saturday afternoon, Dillon Gee seemed the epitome of cool.
Ike Davis hit a two-run home run in the third inning to break a 1-1 tie.
After consecutive shaky outings by the aces R. A. Dickey and Johan Santana, Gee was an unexpected stabilizer for the Mets, working crisply, his demeanor businesslike, as he dispatched the Chicago Cubs. Allowing just one run over eight innings, he guided the Mets to a 3-1 victory.
The Mets improved their record to 46-39 with one game to go before the All-Star break.
â€śToday was all about command of his breaking ball and changeup,â€ť Manager Terry Collins said. â€śHe pitched really good today.â€ť
The game was played under sultry conditions, with temperatures in the mid-90s. There were numerous messages throughout the afternoon, displayed on the outfield scoreboard and voiced over the public-address system, reminding spectators to stay hydrated, and the Mets passed out bags of ice from the concourses. Many fans held frosty water bottles against their necks.
Gee hardly broke a sweat, working all afternoon along the perimeter of home plate, inducing weak contact from the Cubsâ€™ hitters, who got seven scattered hits off him. Along with his four strikeouts, Gee recorded seven outs on the ground and eight in the air. Few balls were hit off him with any authority, and he did not walk a batter.
â€śIt was definitely hot, and you get a little tired out there,â€ť Gee said. â€śBut I think it allowed me to stay loose, and I didnâ€™t mind it.â€ť
His comfort showed, and the outing was one of his best of the season. He entered the game having lost four of his last five starts, but he improved his record to 6-7 and lowered his earned run average to 4.10.
â€śEven though the record is totally skewed, I feel like Iâ€™m pitching better,â€ť he said.
The Metsâ€™ offense displayed flashes of power against the starter Jeff Samardzija, a tall, wavy-haired right-hander. The last time the Mets faced him, on June 27, they tagged him for nine runs on the way to a 17-1 victory on a hot afternoon at Wrigley Field. They were less productive Saturday, getting just three runs and seven hits, but the outcome was again a victory.
Jordany Valdespin opened the scoring for the Mets in the second, when he pummeled a 1-1 fastball from Samardzija into the bullpen beyond the fence in right-center field. The home run, which traveled an estimated 405 feet, was the fourth this year for Valdespin, a hard-swinging 24-year-old infielder who has begun to dabble in left field, which he played Saturday. Valdespin has 17 hits this season; 10 of them have been for extra bases.
â€śIâ€™m enjoying every second, every minute here, every situation I get the chance to play,â€ť said Valdespin, who has also played shortstop and second base this season while shuttling between the majors and Class AAA.
Ike Davis pulled the Mets further ahead in the third, smashing a two-run homer off the facing of the second tier of seats in right field.
The offense proved sufficient for Gee, who did not run into trouble until the sixth inning, when the sun was just beginning to paint angular shadows on the Citi Field grass.
Luis Valbuena, the No. 8 hitter, led off with a double into the left-field corner, and he came home one out later when David DeJesus cracked a single through the middle of the infield. Two more Cubs reached base, but Gee struck out Alfonso Soriano, feeding him curveballs before finishing him off with a high fastball, to end the inning.
â€śThat was a huge situation,â€ť Gee said. â€śI was very glad I was able to get out of that.â€ť
Bobby Parnell, the Metsâ€™ interim closer, came in for the ninth and allowed a leadoff double to Anthony Rizzo, the Cubsâ€™ promising first baseman. But Parnell got Soriano to fly out to center, and then Ruben Tejada made an athletic catch on Bryan LaHair in shallow left field, reaching for a sinking pop-up past his left shoulder with his back turned away from home.
â€śI didnâ€™t think he was going to get to it,â€ť Collins said. â€śBut big-time players make big plays.â€ť
Parnell struck out Steve Clevenger to end the game, sending the players and the crowd indoors to find relief from the heat.
New York Mets manager Terry Collins expects to hear by Friday about the long-shot appeal that could give R.A. Dickey a belated no-hitter.
Dickey allowed only an infield single Wednesday night in a 9-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, and the team is asking the commissioner’s office to overturn the official scorer’s decision on B.J. Upton’s hit.
“They’ll have a decision (Friday) I’m sure,” Collins said before Thursday’s game at Tampa Bay. “We’re just taking a shot. What do we have to lose?”
The speedy Upton hit a high bouncer in the first inning that third baseman David Wright was unable to field with his bare hand. The play was ruled a hit, but the Mets wonder if it should have been called an error on Wright.
When asked if the chance of the appeal being successful was five percent, Collins said “less.”
“You got a guy who can really run … you’ve got an outstanding third baseman,” Collins said. “The only way he can make the play is to bare hand it. He knows that and he can’t make it. If he catches with the bare hand, if he makes the play, I don’t know if he’s out or not.”
MLB can review official scoring decisions and reverse them if it believes a mistake was made.
Johan Santana held St. Louis hitless on June 1, the first no-hitter in the Mets’ 51-year history. Dickey was just as dominant Wednesday in his second career one-hitter.
Jonathon Niese and two relievers combined on a six-hitter, David Wright homered despite a broken finger and the New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 on Saturday.
Niese (2-0) allowed five hits and struck out five in 6 2-3 innings. Bobby Parnell got four outs and Jon Rauch pitched the ninth.
Wright was 3 for 5, including a long homer on the first pitch he saw after missing three games with a broken right pinkie. Lucas Duda also connected for the Mets, who are off to a surprising 6-2 start.
The five-time defending NL East champion Phillies are 3-5 and struggling offensively without All-Stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the middle of their lineup. They’ve scored two runs or less in five of their eight games.
Phillies starter Vance Worley (0-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings.
Wright hurt his finger diving back to a base Monday night. He finally felt well enough to return on Saturday, and made an impact right away.
Worley retired the first two batters before Wright drove one out to almost straightaway center to give the Mets the lead in the first.
The Mets tacked on three runs in the fourth. They loaded the bases with no outs on a walk and singles by Wright and Ike Davis, who was 1 for 24 to that point. One run scored when Jason Bay grounded into a double play. Duda then ripped a two-run shot to right, snapping an 0-for-15 slump with his third homer.
Mets center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis robbed Brian Schneider of extra bases and an RBI with a sensational running catch on a drive to the warning track to end the second inning.
The crowd of 45,750 was the 225th straight sellout at Citizens Bank Park, including postseason play. There were blue-shirted Mets fans mixed in, of course. The loudest cheers from home fans came when a New York fan was ejected from the ballpark in the ninth.
NOTES: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was honored before the game for being the winningest manager in franchise history. Manuel moved into first place on the team’s list with his 646th victory on the final day of the regular season last year. … Schneider caught Worley for the 13th consecutive start. The last time Worley didn’t pitch to Schneider was last July 15 at Citi Field. … Wright has an eight-game hitting streak. … Wright’s 16 homers at Citizens Bank Park are the most by a visiting player. … LHP Cole Hamels (0-1) goes for the Phillies against RHP Mike Pelfrey in the series finale Sunday. Hamels is 3-10 with a 4.46 ERA in 17 career starts vs. the Mets. Pelfrey is 7-7 with a 5.37 ERA in 19 starts against the Phillies.
A little less zip on the fastball. Still has that baffling changeup. Throw in a slider, plus all his pitching savvy, and it seems Johan Santana has more than enough to win.
Back on a major league mound for the first time in 19 months, Santana tossed five innings of two-hit ball in his long-awaited return from shoulder surgery and David Wright hit an RBI single to lead the New York Mets past the Atlanta Braves 1-0 in their season opener Thursday.
“It’s one game but it’s very, very important for us,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We pitch, we can compete.”
New York’s revamped bullpen picked up for Santana and shut down the Braves, while the shortened fences at reconfigured Citi Field hardly came into play. But it wasn’t all good news for the Mets, who watched new center fielder Andres Torres hobble off after re-injuring his left calf.
Torres said he’s headed to the disabled list and back to Florida for a rehab program.
It was the first time since 1996 that Atlanta fielded an opening-day lineup without Chipper Jones, and the Braves were punchless at the plate. Coming off a near-record collapse last September that cost the team a playoff spot, Atlanta managed only four hits against Santana and four relievers.
“Looks like the same dude to me,” said Braves cleanup hitter Dan Uggla, who whiffed his first two times up. “The only difference I can see is like, he’s not throwing quite as hard. But it didn’t seem to matter.”
On a sunny, 53-degree afternoon, the Mets honored late catcher Gary Carter in a pregame ceremony and announced a sellout crowd of 42,080 – the largest ever at Citi Field, which opened in 2009. There did appear to be patches of empty seats, however.
Expected to finish last in a loaded-up NL East, the Mets have slashed $43.4 million off last year’s opening-day payroll – believed to be the largest one-year drop in baseball history. But with Santana finally in uniform again, it was a day filled with optimism.
“Today is the perfect situation,” new closer Frank Francisco said, “to show some negative people out there we can do it. We can win more than they think we can.”
Santana struck out five and wriggled out of a fifth-inning jam in his first big league appearance since beating the Braves 4-2 on Sept. 2, 2010. He had surgery 12 days later to repair a torn anterior cruciate capsule in his left shoulder.
“I’m happy with the way everything ended up,” the two-time Cy Young Award winner said. “I want to make sure I’ll be able to locate all my pitches and mix them all, and I think today was a good day.”
On the other side of the field, Atlanta was missing two key pieces. Jones, who recently announced his plans to retire after this season, is on the disabled list following arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Also on the mend is ace Tim Hudson, who had offseason back surgery.
In his absence, Tommy Hanson got the opening-day start and wound up with a hard-luck loss.
“He pitched well. You know, just that last inning we ran into a little bit of trouble, but for the most part today he made his pitches and we were cruising there for a while,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said.
Torres, acquired from San Francisco in an offseason trade, drew a leadoff walk from Hanson (0-1) in the sixth and scored on Wright’s single. Moments later, Torres took a bad angle on a triple by Tyler Pastornicky, the rookie’s first major league hit, and pulled up while chasing the ball.
Torres originally strained his calf March 20 but hurried back for opening day.
Ramon Ramirez (1-0), obtained in the same deal as Torres, got four outs to earn the win. Jon Rauch worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Francisco pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
“We’ve been talking all winter that we’ve improved our bullpen,” Collins said. “It couldn’t have set up better and they all came in and delivered.”
Santana retired 12 in a row after Martin Prado‘s first-inning single, striking out the 3-4-5 hitters in succession before Matt Diaz doubled in the fifth. His fastball mostly ranged from 86-89 mph, and his signature changeup looked sharp.
The left-hander walked two consecutive batters with two outs in the fifth, including Hanson. Santana went to a full count on Bourn with the bases loaded and, with the crowd on its feet, got the speedy leadoff man to hit an inning-ending comebacker.
“He’s by far one of the greatest competitors I’ve been around,” Collins said. “He just doesn’t give in to anybody.”
NOTES: Despite losing their first eight openers, the Mets improved to 33-18 on opening day – the best in baseball. … Atlanta was 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.