Matt Harvey tosses first career shutout, Wilmer Flores gets first hit, RBIs as Mets beat Rockies
If this Mets season too closely has resembled an unsteady walk on a tightrope, at least Matt Harvey has been a regular Nik Wallenda. And Wednesday night, Harvey's mates actually provided something of a safety net in a 5-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
From a trickle to a modest flow, the Mets' offense featured call-up Wilmer Flores' first two major-league hits and, during a reassuring three-run eighth inning, his first three RBIs with a sharp double down the leftfield line; another double from the healing swing of Ike Davis, and RBI singles from Omar Quintanilla and John Buck.
Nine hits in all. Maybe not a Niagara Falls of production. But, compared to the run support provided Harvey most of the season, it was more than enough to save Harvey from his 12th no-decision in 23 starts.
And, besides the unusually generous run support, the twist Wednesday night was how Harvey, instead of melting down Colorado's hitters with round after round of blunderbuss fastballs, was meticulous and forensic. He stuck out six, among his lowest totals all year.
But he did not walk a batter and permitted a mere four singles in the first complete-game victory of his career: solid two-out drives by Wilin Rosario and Michael Cuddyer in the second and fourth innings, an infield grounder that Nolan Arenado beat out with two outs in the eighth, and Charlie Blackmon's two-out, ninth-inning line drive that bounced off Harvey's knee and deflected into rightfield.
Harvey waved off trainer Ray Ramirez and completed the shutout by getting Troy Tulowitzki to pop up.
Between Cuddyer's hit and Arenado's, Harvey set down 10 batters in a row and, because of a double play in the eighth, Colorado left a measly three runners on base.
"Obviously, there's been nights when he's stuck out 10 or 11," Terry Collins said of his ace. "That's dominant. But tonight, he did it with precision. What he did was, he pitched."
Technically, it was the first career complete game and first career shutout for Harvey (9-3, 2.09 ERA), although he threw nine scoreless innings against the White Sox exactly three months earlier, when he surrendered just one infield hit, only to exit a scoreless tie.
"Fun," Harvey said of Wednesday night's accomplishment. "Something I've wanted to do all year. It's fun to throw strikes and watch the defense work."
Collins cited the general speed of Harvey's pitches as "about 85 percent" of what he can throw, "and when he needed 97, it was there."
Harvey insisted that he wasn't necessarily "taking something off. I knew location was big."
Before the game, Collins had been lamenting how "you get a little frustrated out there, seeing Matt's 8-2. He ought to be 13-2."
Collins had misstated the number of Harvey losses, but made his point clear enough.
"At 90 pitches, he deserved to go back in there," Collins said of the shot at a complete-game shutout. "I'll worry about making up those innings later. And, however many people were out there, they deserved to see him.
"I've been around two Cy Young winners in my career, Doug Drabek and R.A. Dickey, and maybe R.A. at the end of last year, when he was going for 20, created the kind of excitement Matt has created on a daily basis. But he's pretty much captured the excitement of Mets fans, and he should. We're also trying to create some excitement here."
Like a walk on the high wire.