For those of us who hung with last night’s (4/24) game vs. the Dodgers – and your intrepid columnist was barely one of those – there were numerous rewards. Working backwards, there was Jordany Valdespin’s walkoff grand slam, of course. There was the grit – Oh! That Word! – on display in the eighth and ninth, typified by Mike Baxter’s hustling double in front of the egregious Carl Crawford. There was the spectacle of Dodger manager Don Mattingly pulling Crawford – and not the pitcher – in favor of an extra infielder, a move rendered moot when Valdespin left the yard. There was the specter of blue disappointment when the Matt Kemp drove Matt Harvey’s elevated fastball barely over the right field wall – the nerve! – in the sixth, lifted by David Wright’s tying base hit in the ninth. There was the bizarro-world communication problem between the visitors’ dugout and bullpen in the fifth, snuffling the momentum of a Met rally and giving Dodger starter Ted Lilly a much needed breather, enough to escape the inning surrendering a bare run. There was Mark Ellis in middle of everything heartbreaking, once again, from a Met fan’s perspective.
As has been the story for the Mets so far in 2013, everything starts and ends with Matt Harvey. The All-Star Game is at Citi Field this year, and Harvey is all anyone can talk about. The Mets are scoring runs at a better clip than only a handful of times in their history, and Harvey is all anyone can talk about. The outfield is in the process of getting itself sorted out and Lucas Duda is on base every time you turn around, and Harvey is all anyone can talk about. It’s more than a little unfair to have a 24-year-old shoulder most of the hopes and dreams for an MLB franchise – he does have some help from Captain Wright, after all – but the Mets’ fan base being what it is, anyone remotely capable is going to be looked at as a savior. He’s handling it well, apparently. He’s becoming comfortable with the growing hoards around his post-game dressing stall. When the scribes asked his opinion of his own performance, he let out a slight chuckle and said, “Well, you guys know me: I thought I sucked…” If nothing else, his presence and demeanor gives the writers somewhere else to go besides Wright’s locker.
Harvey’s definition of “sucked” only reads like a Quality Start 90% of the other pitchers on the planet would sell a kidney for: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 3 ER. OK, so the guy’s human after all. But he was still able to warm up the twenty-odd-thousand chilly, misty souls in attendance and keep those of us watching on TV riveted. After Kemp’s homer, thinking of a “wasted” Harvey effort, I angrily Tweeted, “Damn! They’re gonna get swept! #RIP2013”
Oh, me of little faith…
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