Mets' Matt Harvey deals hot stuff on a cold night

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey is seen on the Mets pitcher Matt Harvey is seen on the mound in the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres in a baseball game at Citi Field. (April 3, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since July 4, ...

Considering the frigid conditions, there could only be three types of fans at Citi Field Wednesday night: Hearty fans. Hardy fans. And Harvey fans.

Hearty because only a true die-hard would come out in weather like this. Hardy because only the strong survived in such bone-rattling cold.

And Harvey because Matt Harvey was on the mound.

Those that braved a game-time temperature of 44 degrees with sustained winds of 20-plus miles per hour left with chills -- in more ways than one.

In the initial start of his first full major-league season, Harvey dominated the Padres, allowing one hit, walking two and striking out 10 in seven shutout innings as the Mets improved to 2-0 with an 8-4 victory.

Harvey was special. Seaver special. Gooden special. (With the caveat that those guys would have gone nine innings. It's a different era.)

Harvey picked off the only guy who got a hit off him. He pitched to one batter over the minimum. He threw 94 pitches and topped out at 98 miles per hour.

He had as many hits as he gave up. When he reached first after his second-inning single to center, Harvey refused to wear a jacket to keep warm.

"I want to play baseball," said the 24-year-old from Groton, Conn. "I didn't need a jacket."

Still, after the game catcher John Buck joked about checking to see if his toes were still there. If you were in the stands, you probably still have ice in your belly button. Display it to your buddies as a badge of honor. You saw a performance for the ages that can only warm your heart about what is to come if Harvey stays healthy.

And some scouts say Zack Wheeler has even better stuff than Harvey? Yowza!

The attendance was announced as 22,239 for Harvey's first career victory at Citi Field. If the weather ever warms up, Harvey's home games will become a hot ticket. Heck, Mets fans might want to grab some seats for Harvey's next scheduled start on Monday in Philadelphia.

At least make sure you're in front of the TV. After Wednesday night, it's hard to imagine the Mets going another 50 years without a no-hitter. You wouldn't want to miss it.

Harvey's first pitch was a 95-mile-per-hour fastball to Everth Cabrera. He retired the first nine, striking out five, before Cabrera led off the fourth with a single to center. Harvey almost picked off last season's NL steals leader on the first try. He got him on the second.

"I attribute that to Ike [Davis]," Harvey said. "He kind of made fun of me for having a really bad pickoff move, so I really wanted to make it quicker. It's something we worked on in spring training all the time."

Said manager Terry Collins: "That says a lot about his willingness to improve in every facet of the game."

But it's his pitching, not his pickoffs, that people are going to pay to see. It was the third time in 11 career outings that Harvey has fanned at least 10. Five were on fastballs, three were on sliders and the last two were on his emerging changeup.

"He pitched, considering the circumstances, an unbelievable game," Collins said. "You walk out and grab that baseball in that kind of weather, it feels like a cue ball. The fact that he commanded his stuff as well as he did was impressive."

Oh, and remember how Harvey's first pitch Wednesday night was 95 miles per hour? So was his last. Bringing the heat on a cold night.

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