After a terrific first half, Matt Harvey was given the chance to start the All-Star game in front of his home crowd.
He has another big showdown at Citi Field up next.
Harvey takes the mound opposite fellow All-Star Cliff Lee as the New York Mets conclude a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
Leading the NL with 147 strikeouts, Harvey (7-2, 2.35 ERA) has taken the game by storm in his first full season. The right-hander also ranks among the major league leaders in ERA and opponents’ batting average at .196.
Harvey shined on a big stage Tuesday in the Midsummer Classic, walking off to a standing ovation after striking out three in two scoreless innings.
“When I’m warming up out there and they start chanting my name, that’s something that you … As a kid, I don’t think you could ever imagine it,” he told MLB’s official website. “This whole experience has been absolutely incredible for me, something I’ll never forget.”
Harvey, who allowed three runs in seven innings of a 4-3, 16-inning win over San Francisco on July 8 in his final start before the break, now turns his attention to the Phillies (49-49). He has proved nearly untouchable in four starts in the series, going 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 26 1-3 innings.
Harvey has held All-Star Domonic Brown and Michael Young hitless in a combined 13 at-bats. While Philadelphia hasn’t been able to figure him out, manager Charlie Manuel doesn’t expect to be at much of a disadvantage with Lee (10-3, 2.86) on the hill.
“We’ve got a guy pretty good, too,” Manuel said. “That’s what makes it great. That’s what makes it a good game. How do we have to approach him? We’ve got to make him throw strikes and try to get good balls to hit.
“He’s a power pitcher with overpowering stuff, and his secondary stuff is real good. He commands it. He’s tough to beat, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it.”
Lee had gone 8-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his previous 12 starts before giving up a career high-tying four solo homers in seven innings of a 5-1 loss to Washington on July 10. Despite that showing, the left-hander was pleased with his pre-break efforts.
“I just want to continue to grind until the very end and throw strikes, and give the team a chance every time I take the field,” said Lee, who has gone at least seven innings in all but three of 19 outings. “As a starting pitcher, I feel like that’s my job.”
Lee, 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in nine career starts against New York (42-51), has gone 5-0 with a 1.92 ERA during his last eight road outings. Harvey is 0-2 in his past nine starts at home despite a 2.56 ERA.
David Wright has four hits in his last 18 at-bats versus Lee, and Ike Davis is 1 for 11 in the matchup.
The Phillies had outscored the Mets 53-17 during a seven-game winning streak in Queens before falling 5-4 on Saturday. While Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley homered, Philadelphia went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“We had chances, but we didn’t get it done,” Manuel said.
Utley, who also hit a two-run homer in Friday’s 13-8 win, has gone 11 for 28 with 12 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak at Citi Field.