Matt Harvey's outings have grown so much in stature that the Mets have started to mark them with limited-edition T-shirts. As part of a special ticket package, fans who bought seats down the leftfield corner Wednesday night received bright orange shirts that read "Stand For Harvey.''
It's the kind of treatment reserved for the elite. For instance, the Mariners have run similar promotions in recent years for Felix Hernandez, their Cy Young Award winner. Clearly, the Mets hope that Harvey can one day join that same company.
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Yet for all the fuss surrounding the phenom at Citi Field, Harvey gladly found himself upstaged when his teammates authored a stirring 7-3 walk-off win over the Dodgers.
Jordany Valdespin ended the comeback with a grand slam in the 10th inning off reliever Josh Wall, and the Mets received contributions from up and down the lineup to reach that critical moment. The bullpen threw four shutout innings in relief of Harvey. And in the ninth, Mike Baxter stretched a single into a double, positioning himself to score the tying run on David Wright's two-out single.
Only then could Valdespin win it with the bases loaded in the 10th, the last in a string of timely hits for the Mets.
Said Harvey: "That's the real story tonight.''
Harvey did not factor in the decision, though he pitched well enough to win. Before a crowd of 24,130 at Citi Field and a national television audience, the righthander unleashed fastballs that topped out at 98 mph and breaking pitches that left some of the Dodgers lurching over the plate.
He walked one and struck out seven. But one pitch in the sixth cost him dearly in his quest to run his record to 5-0.
Matt Kemp's drive to rightfield barely carried over the fence, eventually bouncing off the hands of an usher. Umpires called for a video review after the ball appeared to bounce back into play. But after a delay of about two minutes, they returned to the field to signal home run, the biggest spoiler of Harvey's night. The two-run shot gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
It was the first time all season he allowed more than one run in a start. It was also the first time he failed to pitch at least seven innings. "I have to do better,'' said Harvey, whose ERA is 1.54.
Harvey, who doubled and scored the Mets' first run, came out of the game for a pinch hitter in the sixth. But despite the anticlimactic end to Harvey's start, the Mets put together a thrilling finish.
"I was just hustling out of the box, trying to get down to first base hard, in case something happened,'' said Baxter, whose run sent the game into extras. "In that case, it did. It kind of kicked off his glove a little more than expected.''
With the bases loaded in the 10th, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly elected to bring in a fifth infielder. Valdespin would have won it with a sacrifice fly. Instead, he drilled Wall's pitch over the fence in rightfield, giving the Mets their first walk-off grand slam since Kevin McReynolds hit one against the Expos on June 25, 1991.
Said Valdespin: "The only thing I was thinking is 'I won the game.' ''