SAN DIEGO -- Matt Harvey finally found his groove.
The Dark Knight's fastball topped out at 97 mph and he struck out a season-high 10 batters as the New York Mets salvaged a split of a four-game series against the San Diego Padres with a 4-3 win on Sunday at Petco Park.
Harvey allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in six innings. The lone damage came on a two-run homer in the fifth from Christian Bethancourt on a fastball that caught too much of the plate.
“I finally felt, the majority of the game, a lot more comfortable,” Harvey said. “I was able to pound the zone, was able to throw all of my pitches. Unfortunately there in the fifth I left one over the middle. Other than that, it was a successful day.”
Said catcher Kevin Plawecki: “His velocity was obviously up. And, not only that, he really hit his spots well today with all of his pitches. Even his slider, out of the zone, it hit corners. I don’t think he left too many balls over the middle of the plate. Even the home run he gave up, I think Bethancourt was just cheating in. I thought the pitch was a good location. He did a great job just keeping hitters off-balance. He had a lot of swings and misses.”
Harvey’s fastball averaged 95 mph.
He has struggled in the middle innings this season, so it was no surprise when Bethancourt produced the fifth-inning homer. Harvey also had some good fortune that frame. Opposing pitcher Andrew Cashner was thrown out trying to score from first base on Jon Jay's double to end that inning. Harvey completed his 102-pitch outing with a scoreless sixth and departed with a 4-2 lead.
“It’s the best command I’ve seen him have this year so far,” manager Terry Collins said. “It’s what it’s all about. He’s got such good stuff. You saw it a lot early in the game. They’re swinging early because they don’t want to get behind. When he made pitches, he got easy outs. That’s how he normally pitches. As I’ve told him, I’ve told [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen], he’s going to get better. Jake [deGrom]'s going to get better. And we’re going to look up in a month and we’re going to say, ‘Wow, we got through it.’”
Harvey now is 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA. He next will pitch at Colorado on Friday.
Meanwhile, at the plate, Harvey nearly matched Bartolo Colon's homer feat from Saturday. Harvey’s second hit of the game struck the top of the center-field wall for a double. Harvey then scored the Mets’ fourth run on Asdrubal Cabrera's two-out single in the sixth.
Colon told Harvey he should work on his muscles.
“He kept saying I needed to hit the weight room,” Harvey said. “So we’ll add that into the mix of working toward things this week.”