By ANDREW KEH
PHOENIX ‚ÄĒ 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 Mets‚Äô recent free fall.
Matt York/Associated Press
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 Mets‚Äô 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.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs lived up to exactly what everybody‚Äôs talked about,‚ÄĚ Manager Terry Collins said. ‚ÄúNow we want him to go out the next time and be a little more comfortable and pitch as effectively as he did today.‚ÄĚ
For the most part, the 23-year-old Harvey looked plenty comfortable. After the win, which ended the Mets‚Äô 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.
‚ÄúWhen 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,‚ÄĚ 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 Arizona‚Äôs third, fourth and fifth hitters a combined six times.
‚ÄúObviously, due to the velocity throughout the first few innings, you could tell he was juiced up,‚ÄĚ Collins said. He added later, ‚ÄúI just hope everybody doesn‚Äôt 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.‚ÄĚ
Everything seemed to go right for Harvey ‚ÄĒ and not just on the mound. In the second, he whacked a ball into center field that sailed over Parra‚Äôs 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. Johnson‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúHe has the ability to sit down big-league lineups,‚ÄĚ 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 ‚ÄĒ losers of 12 of their previous 13 games ‚ÄĒ 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 Mets‚Äô 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 Diamondbacks‚Äô left-handed starter, in the fourth on Johnson‚Äôs sacrifice fly.
Harvey‚Äôs night was nearly sabotaged by the Mets‚Äô bullpen. Jon Rauch gave up a sacrifice fly to right field in the eighth, cutting the Mets‚Äô 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.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs great to know you have a young man like that because it just tells us the future‚Äôs bright,‚ÄĚ Collins said.
Tags: Harvey Shines as Mets End Skid at 6