Matt Harvey's debut produces eye-opening comparisons

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey throws his first pitch

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey throws his first pitch in his major league debut during the first inning of a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (July 26, 2012) (Credit: AP)

PHOENIX -- Tom Seaver. Roger Clemens. Stephen Strasburg. Justin Verlander.

Those are the names that have been mentioned in the past 48 hours when people in baseball talk about Mets phenom Matt Harvey, who burst on to the big-league scene Thursday night by striking out 11 in 51/3 innings in a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks.

Before everyone gets carried away, manager Terry Collins tried to remind the world not to expect 98-mile-per-hour heat with pinpoint command and a vicious slider every time out from the 23-year-old righthander.

Even though it was Collins who brought up Strasburg and Verlander on Friday night when discussing Harvey.

"I just hope everybody doesn't hope to see that electrifying stuff each and every night," Collins said before the second game of this four-game series. "Because I know a lot of it was the fact it was his first game and he's got something he wants to show people what he can do. But it was truly, truly outstanding."

Harvey's next start will be Tuesday against Tim Lincecum and the Giants in San Francisco. He then will take the ball Aug. 5 against the Padres in San Diego in the final act of this 11-game trip before making his Citi Field debut the weekend of Aug. 10-12 against the Braves.

Harvey shattered the Mets' record for strikeouts in a debut, which had been eight. It was set by Seaver on April 13, 1967, and equaled by Bill Denehy three days later -- and it stood until Thursday night.

Harvey, who threw 106 pitches, allowed no runs, three hits and three walks and had two wild pitches.

Harvey is the fourth pitcher since 1960 to strike out at least 11 batters and throw shutout ball in his debut, according to Elias. The others are Juan Marichal, Luis Tiant and Steve Woodard.

Harvey also went 2-for-2 to become the first player in modern baseball history to strike out 10 or more batters and get at least two hits in his first game. The last Mets pitcher to pick up two hits in his debut was David West in 1988.

All of which added up to an impressive first start. All-Star leftfielder Jason Kubel, who went 1-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout against Harvey, said: "You hear about facing a guy in his major-league debut, you're kind of licking your chops a little bit. But that wasn't the case. You're hoping he'll be a little amped and miss spots and leave balls all over the plate. But he just didn't do that."

Harvey said he felt relaxed from the moment he took the mound at Chase Field, which he said surprised him.

"When I was warming up, actually, I looked around and kind of took everything in," he said. "At that moment, I really did believe I was meant to pitch in the big leagues."

Now all he has to do is do it again and again to really be thought of in the same breath as the great pitchers to whom he has been compared after one superb start.

"We're all excited about what happened [Thursday] night, but it's over with now," Collins said. "I want him to enjoy it today, walk around and be very proud of how he did. Very, very proud. He should be. He's waited a long time to get here. He believed he belongs here. He showed everybody he does belong here. So now we can get ready for the next one."

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