Matt Harvey: The Emerging Face Of The Franchise?
The seasons of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde continue. That’s the problem with this team. One day they’re bright Orange. The next day they are down and Blue. One game they lay exposed and naked after revealing everything they do wrong. Then the next, they execute everything they’ve done well all season, and look marvelous doing it. One inning they look handsome and debonair. The next, they look frightening, gruesome and scary. That said, the Mets’ new pitching diamond finds himself encrusted in a lot of rough, doesn’t he?
The Mets entered Thursday night seven games under .500, which represented their deepest decent into the second division all season. And after getting bopped around to the tune of 9-1 over the first two games of this series against Cincinnati, the Mets turned to Matt Harvey again, the same way they’ll be turning to him from now on. And how did the rookie respond? He tossed his longest outing to date and earned win number two in very impressive fashion.
Making his fifth major league start, Matt Harvey was perfect through the first four innings of Thursday night’s game. He kept the Reds hitless through five innings. And shut-out the home team for six innings. Through seven full innings pitched, the Mets’ rookie finally allowed one earned run, while surrendering a total of three hits. He walked none, and struck out seven batters. Matt had only thrown seventy-five pitches to that point. And with a 6-1 lead after seven, Coach Terry let the kid take another at-bat. Matt Harvey already doubled earlier in the game. And if you remember, he also went 2 for 2, with a double, in his major league debut.
Then, out went Matt Harvey to the mound for his eighth inning of work. He was immediately victimized by a broken bat bloop single by Devin Mesoraco. Matt came right back, and made quick work of Miguel Cairo for his eighth strike out of the evening. With two outs however, Matt Harvey used his 89th pitch of the game to walk his first batter of the night. It was also his last batter of the game, as Coach Terry came racing out of the dugout to relieve Matt Harvey of the ball, and hand it over to the bullpen. And believe me, there was no joy back here in Metsville over that development.
Bobby Parnell took over with runners on first and second. Facing Brandon Phillips, Bobby Parnell unleashed a curve ball that froze Cincinnati’s second baseman and dropped in for strike three – crisis averted. After the Mets scored two more times in the top half of the ninth, into the bottom half they went with an 8-1 lead.
Then, in a non-save situation, Frank Francisco happened. On his very first delivery to the plate, he surrendered a souvenir off the bat of Ryan Ludwick. The very next batter, Jay Bruce, doubled off the left field wall. By the time Frankie was finished in his anti-closer role, he allowed three runs to score off four hits and a walk. At least he managed to get two outs before getting the hook. But Coach Terry wasn’t going to let Francisco ruin this one, and summoned Jon Rauch, who finished off the next batter on three pitches. The game finally came to a merciful end, replete with a happy re-cap. But was it happy enough for David Wright?
For David Wright, after that 1-0 bullpen meltdown in game one, and a 6-1 downer Wednesday, he needed to see something from his team. Because that’s where we are now. If you remember, winning is important to him; not the money. Right? So lets hope then, what Matt Harvey served up, was enough eye candy to compensate enough for losing the first two games of this series, and lent itself towards David’s decision to remain a Met. Never mind what kind of punch in the eye Frank Francisco’s appearance turned into. David is used to that. He’s more interested in improvements, and about what’s going to be different around here.
But I would caution David, with only one hit and no rbi in a game the Mets cranked out nine hits and eight runs, and on a night the pitcher had more runs batted in than he did, he better not stare too long, or risk becoming a diva. Lest we forget, money changes everything. Not only that, if Matt Harvey continues to pitch like he has, and stands as tall as he does in front of the media, David Wright’s face of the franchise might wind up requiring a nip and tuck. Oh, and by the way, his batting average dropped another three points this series. I’m just saying…, as I like to keep things humble.
And humble is, as humble does. Even Jason Bay pitched in, giving David Wright something else to look at – the white trace of his home run to right field in the sixth inning. Jason Bay’s shot should have looked just fine from David Wright’s vantage point in the visiting dugout.
Why take take this preemptive shot across David Wright’s bow so early? Well, because watching Matt Harvey in action makes me think such things. Secondly, because when you’re dealing with tens of millions of dollars, there is a thin line between being humble and hubris. And we all know how the public can turn on a dime. We wouldn’t want David Wright turning into Mr. Hyde, now would we? The point here is, the face of the franchise can easily be replaced. And if you’ve watched Matt Harvey operate with a ball in his hand, and then with a microphone in his face, and believe in perfect storms, you’ll start realizing how it’s possible.