Harvey's 9 K's lead Mets past Strasburg, Nationals
Right-hander Matt Harvey pitched in his first game since Aug. 24, 2013, and he was dominating as the Mets pounded the Nationals, 6-3, on Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park.
Harvey, who missed all of 2014 because of Tommy John surgery, pitched six shutout innings, allowing four hits while striking out nine batters.
"The excitement of being back on the mound in a regular-season game definitely set in when I was done warming up and walking in," Harvey said. "Once we got three outs in the first, realizing I was about to go out to work was pretty exciting, and a lot of fun."
Harvey's counterpart, Stephen Strasburg, didn't pitch well, he allowed six runs -- three earned -- in 5 1/3 innings.
The Mets ended up winning the series, taking two out of three games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dark Knight returns: Five hundred and ninety-three days after last appearing in a Major League game, Harvey proved just as dominant as he was throughout 2013. Striking out nine over six shutout innings, Harvey dialed his fastball up to 97 mph, walked just one batter and allowed four hits. The only thing slowing him down was the pitch count the Mets imposed upon him, forcing him out of the game after six.
"It took a while," Harvey said of his return. "But I'm glad I'm finally here."
Nats allergic to RBIs: The Nationals continue to have problems scoring runs. In the three-game series, they went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position. All three hits came in the third game. The first hit came in the second inning against Harvey. With Ian Desmond on second, Dan Uggla singled to left field, but Desmond was stranded at third base when Jose Lobaton struck out to end the threat.
In the seventh inning and Buddy Carlyle on the mound, Michael Taylor drove in two runs with a double to left-center field, scoring Desmond and Lobaton. In the ninth, and Jeurys Famila on the mound, Desmond came home on a single by Reed Johnson.
"Har-vey's bet-ter": That familiar chant rang out from Mets fans as the Nationals made a pitching change in the sixth inning, taunting Strasburg as he walked off the mound. After the Mets touched Strasburg for four runs in the third inning, three of them unearned thanks to Ian Desmond's error, David Wright added two more on an opposite-field single to chase Strasburg. Mets fans, a vocal minority at Nationals Park, responded with an encore of the chant they first delivered on April 19, 2013, when Harvey beat Strasburg for the first time.
Strasburg not himself: Strasburg had an outing he would like to forget. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed six runs-- three earned -- on nine hits. It didn't help that the Nationals played sloppy defense behind him. Desmond's error in the third inning allowed the Mets to score three unearned runs.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Of the first eight runs the Mets scored this season, six were unearned coming immediately after Desmond errors. The Nationals shortstop ranked second in the Majors with 24 errors last season.
QUOTABLES "I downplayed the significance before the series and I'm going to downplay it now. It's a series win against an opponent in our division. And as I've said all along, in order to accomplish what we're going to accomplish this year, we've got to take care of business in our division." -- Wright on taking two of three from the Nationals.
"He is always good. Taking a year off, it's just a setback that he had. Fortunately, he is going to come back and do what he does. We saw it in Spring Training. He did very well in Spring Training. He came back today. He did what he had to do. He shut us down." -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harperon Harvey.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: The excitement of Harvey Day behind them, the Mets will travel south for their first crack at the undefeated Braves in Atlanta. Left-handers Jon Niese and Eric Stults will square off in the Braves' home opener on Friday at Turner Field.
Nationals: After losing two out of three games to the Mets to start the 2015 season, the Nationals will face the Phillies in a three-game series starting on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. In the opener, right-hander Jerome Williams will take the mound for Philadelphia, while left-hander Gio Gonzalezwill start for Washington.