SAN FRANCISCO -- Like thousands of people before him, Matt Harvey walked into AT & T Park for the first time Monday night and immediately was impressed by the picturesque home ballpark of the Giants.
Unlike 99 percent of the other first-time visitors, Harvey is going to get to do more than just watch a game Tuesday night. He will make his second major-league start against struggling Tim Lincecum as a hopeful Mets Nation tries to stay up late to watch the 23-year-old who struck out 11 in a dazzling debut Thursday.
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"I haven't been to these ballparks," Harvey said before the opener of the four-game series by the Bay. "I've never seen them. So today when I got here, I kind of walked around a little bit. I'm trying to soak everything up as much as possible. I'm not taking anything for granted and just enjoying every day."
The Mets' first-round pick in the 2010 draft will face a team that went into Monday night having been shut out twice in a row in a three-game sweep by the Dodgers. San Francisco had dropped four in a row overall.
Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner, is 4-11 with a 5.88 ERA. But that doesn't mean Harvey isn't excited to face him from the mound and from the batter's box. Harvey did go 2-for-2 with a double in his winning debut against the Diamondbacks.
"He's been so successful for so long," Harvey said. "He's won two Cy Young Awards. So watching a guy like that and getting to face him is awesome. It's kind of surreal, but at the same time, it's what I'm here for. I'm here to compete against those kinds of guys and do everything I can to limit the damage and keep our team in winning distance."
Harvey went 51/3 innings in his debut and didn't allow a run in the Mets' 3-1 victory. He gave up three hits and walked three (two in his final inning). He had exceptional control with a fastball that reached 98 miles per hour and showed a devastating slider, as well as a curve and changeup.
Manager Terry Collins doesn't expect dominance out of Harvey every time out. His only suggestion after Harvey's first outing was that he'd like to see the changeup a little more. As good as Harvey was, that's like telling the young Rembrandt to use a little more blue next time.
But Collins knows Harvey will have to deal with adversity at some point if he's going to remain in the rotation for the rest of the season, as the Mets hope.
"I guess I hope he's never challenged, but I know he will be," Collins said. "If he's going to be, I'd rather have it more sooner than later so he knows how to get through a tough time. And I really think that he's prepared himself for that."
Harvey said after his first start that he felt as if he belonged as soon as he took the Chase Field mound for warm-ups. Tuesday night, he will take another mound for the first time and face hitters he never has seen in person.
"It's a new ballpark, it's a new team," Harvey said. "So it's the same. Everything's all new to me. Until I see the same team twice. It's a new ballpark, it's a new city, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. Doing everything to try and be successful like I was last start."