'Real Deal' Harvey dominates, Mets win

Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


NEW YORK -- Chase Utley, the Philadelphia Phillies second baseman and a man of few words, turned to New York Mets catcher John Buck prior to one of Utley's three at-bats Sunday afternoon against Mets ace Matt Harvey and provided a succinct scouting report on Harvey.
"Utley kind of looked at me and said 'All right, I'm convinced,'" Buck said after Harvey threw seven spectacular shutout innings to lead the Mets to a 5-0 win. "'I'm convinced. He's got pretty good stuff. He's the real deal."
"The Real Deal" was one of the many nicknames bestowed upon Harvey during a first half of the season when he emerged as the most overpowering pitcher in baseball and earned the starting nod for the National League in the All-Star Game.
Harvey (8-2) certainly lived up to the moniker and his reputation in his first post-All-Star Game start on Sunday. He started strong, was in total control and had many thinking potential no-hitter for the first three innings.
Then Utley laced a clean single over a leaping Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy in the fourth. But even though Harvey had taken a no-hitter into the seventh inning three times in 20 starts -- Sunday might have been his most dominant start.
"He's pitched some good games," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "That might be [the] best stuff I've seen him have."
Harvey, who threw two innings in the All-Star Game at Citi Field but hadn't pitched for the Mets since July 8, struck out 10 -- which tied him with the Rangers' Yu Darvish for the major-league lead with 157 whiffs. He did not issue a walk.
It was the fourth time this year he's struck out at least 10 and walked none, but the first time he's won such a start. Of the 112 pitches he threw, 75 were strikes, and 22 of those were of the swinging variety.
Most of Harvey's 17 pitches in the first inning were fastballs clocked at 98 and 99 mph. He also threw a 93 mph slider and struck out Domonic Brown on an 88 mph curveball.
Harvey struck out the side in the third and capped the inning by striking out Jimmy Rollins on three pitches: A 99 mph fastball and a pair of 90 mph changeups.
"Everything felt good from the beginning," Harvey said. "I could kind of tell in the bullpen that everything was nice and fresh. Felt good and was able to execute my pitches like I wanted."
Harvey's stuff was familiar to Buck, and so were the mutterings of Phillies players.
"Usually, a guy throws 100, you're keying off that fastball and just forgetting about the rest of the stuff," Buck said. "But when you throw curveball, slider, changeup, whatever he wants, I think that's what makes it really tough (and leads to) those comments of 'It's just not fair.'"
Unfortunately for the Phillies, Harvey pitched with an extra fury on Sunday, four days after the release of a Men's Journal article in which he felt his words about embracing New York as a single athlete were taken out of context.
"I think Matt was on a little bit of a mission to silence all the other stuff that's going on and let everybody know he's here to pitch and here's here to play baseball," Collins said. "I think he went out there with a little anger."
Said Harvey: "This is going to be it for me talking about it, but I read the article. Obviously was embarrassed by it. The way I was portrayed is not who I am, I've learned from it."
And the Phillies learned just how good Harvey can be. He struck out every batter in the Phillies lineup at least once except Utley and Michael Young, who had the only two hits against Harvey until Delmon Young doubled with one out in the seventh.
Delmon Young went to third on a groundout by Kevin Frandsen but was stranded there when Juan Lagares ran down John Mayberry's fly ball into the left-center field gap to preserve the shutout.
The crowd stood and roared as Harvey walked slowly off the mound.
"He did a tremendous job today -- he was in command and control of the entire game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Definitely the best we've seen this year."
David Wright and Marlon Byrd provided Harvey the only offense he'd need with back-to-back solo homers off losing pitcher Cliff Lee in the first. Lagares hit a three-run homer in the fourth to cap the scoring for the Mets, who received two hits apiece from Wright, Byrd and Lagares.
The Mets (43-51) won their second in a row and for the seventh time in their last 10 games. The Phillies (49-50) lost consecutive games for the first time since June 29-30.
Lee (10-4) took the loss for the Phillies after allowing all five runs on seven hits and one walk over six innings. He struck out six.
NOTES: Mets utilityman Justin Turner (left intercostal strain) went 0-for-2 with a walk for Single-A Brooklyn on Saturday and was expected to play again for Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon. Turner will likely be activated from the disabled list on Monday. The Mets carried 13 pitchers this weekend but manager Terry Collins said Sunday that a pitcher will likely be sent down to make room for Turner. ... The back-to-back homers by Wright and Byrd were the first of the season for the Mets. Turner and Wright were the last players to hit back-to-back homers for the Mets and that happened on Sept. 25. ... Phillies RHP Roy Halladay, who underwent surgery May 15 to repair a rotator cuff tear and remove a bone spur, threw 20 pitches in the bullpen before Sunday's game. It was his first time on a mound since the surgery. Halladay, who went 2-4 with an 8.65 ERA in seven starts before the operation, hopes to return to the Phillies' rotation in August. ... Lee allowed back-to-back homers twice in his previous start against the Nationals on July 10.