KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Matt Harvey was unable to finish what he started against the Royals on Nov. 1 at Citi Field, but he got another chance here Sunday night when he started the 2016 season for the Mets at Kauffman Stadium.
The stakes were infinitely lower than in Game 5 of the World Series, but the bottom line was the same — a frustrating loss marked by the Royals’ resourcefulness and the Mets’ sloppiness.
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“Not the ideal way to start the season,” Harvey said after the Mets’ 4-3 loss, in which he allowed four runs (three of them earned) and eight hits, striking out two and walking two, in 5 2⁄3 innings. He threw 83 pitches.
It was not the dominant Harvey the Royals saw in the first eight innings in Game 5 last season, but it was not an awful outing, either.
“I thought he threw the ball fine,” manager Terry Collins said. “The first inning got him in a little trouble, but he got in cruise a little bit. He probably ran out of gas in the sixth. The velocity started to drop. But all in all, I thought he threw the ball fine.”
Harvey later disputed Collins’ assertion that he tired in the sixth. He said he felt fine physically but was not as sharp as he could have and should have been.
“I felt all right,” Harvey said. “There were times I felt fine and other times when it was just hard finding a rhythm and getting my release point. But I made some pitches when I had to and wasn’t able to when I really needed to, so that’s a disappointment and pretty frustrating.
“But overall my body feels fine. It’s not the way I wanted to start the season, but we have to pick up from it and get ready for Tuesday.”
The fact that Harvey was speaking to reporters at all was news after a brief media boycott in reaction to how his recent health scare was covered, complete with numerous jokes and puns related to urination in stories, headlines and social media posts.
Harvey said last week that a blood clot in his bladder was related to his not relieving himself regularly enough.
He pitched two innings in a final tuneup Wednesday.
Asked if the disruption to his routine caused by the medical problem contributed to his shaky outing, he said: “I don’t think so. I think it could be some things that happened going into it, but I don’t know. But obviously you’re going to keep working and working on the mechanics and make sure I can figure out what’s going on with them and go over some film, probably starting Tuesday, and figure out what’s going on.”
Harvey allowed an unearned run in the first inning that was set up when leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes dropped an easy fly ball.
“It’s baseball,” Harvey said. “Things happen. Nobody is trying to do anything out there except for get outs and do everything we can to help the team. Errors happen. It’s part of the game.”
He allowed another run in the fourth and was charged with two in the sixth. Bartolo Colon allowed the hit that drove in the fourth of the runs charged to Harvey.
The fact that Harvey managed only two strikeouts was typical of the contact-hitting Royals.
“They do a good job of hitting good pitches in play and they move guys around pretty well,” Harvey said. “They did a good job. Obviously, I wish I could go back and change a few pitches here and there.”
Collins disagreed when a reporter suggested he had removed Harvey with a low pitch count, saying: “That might be low if he hadn’t gone through what he did last week. But I thought for the most part, he threw the ball very well . . . Did he have his A-plus stuff? No, but he still threw the ball very well, and as we know, they don’t strike out much.
“He made them swing the bat. He threw the ball over the plate. I was very happy with the way he threw.”