Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey was a good soldier on Wednesday night, sharing the blame in the Mets' 2-0 loss to the Nationals.
"We lost," he said. "I didn't do my job."
Of course, the 23-year-old righty was hardly at fault for the Mets' latest loss. Sure, Harvey could have been more efficient instead of letting his pitch count get out of control. By the time he left the game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth inning, he had already thrown 106 pitches.
However, Harvey finished with 10 strikeouts, allowing just one run in five-plus innings. His only real mistake came on a fastball that Ryan Zimmerman clobbered for a solo homer.
Otherwise, he showed plenty of velocity on his fastball (topping at 98 while averaging 95) and used a strong changeup (we'll have more on this on the blog later on) to cover up a rough night with his slider and curveball.
Despite Harvey's inability to get early outs on Wednesday, the real culprit in the loss was (once again) the offense, which finished with eight hits, none for extra bases. For the 10th time this year, the Mets were shut out.
The loss also knocked the Mets to a season-worst 13 games under the .500 mark (65-78), capped an 0-6 homestand and equaled a season long six-game losing streak. It also extended the team's dubious streak of scoring three runs or less at home to 13 consecutive games -- a franchise record.
Since 1918, only 12 other big league teams have ventured into this territory:
17 -- Cincinnati Reds, Aug. 26, 1948-April 19, 1949
16 -- Seattle Mariners, Aug. 7-Sept. 13, 2010
15 -- Baltimore Orioles, Aug. 6-Sept. 13, 1954
14 -- Texas Rangers, Sept. 4, 1972-April 7, 1973
14 -- Los Angeles Dodgers, Sept. 23, 1967-April 15, 1968
14 -- Baltimore Orioles, June 15-July 3, 1955
14 -- Philadelphia Phillies, Sept. 12, 1942-May 2, 1943
14 -- Brooklyn Dodgers, Aug. 10-Aug. 21, 1919
14 -- Washington Senators, May 10-May 25, 1918
13 -- New York Yankees, Sept. 2, 1972-April 9, 1973
13 -- New York Yankees, April 27-May 25, 1968
13 -- Cincinnati Reds, Aug. 16-Aug. 31, 1932
"There's no question, it's frustrating for all 35 guys in that clubhouse, besides the players and the coaches and the front office, to not play well at home, to not score runs," said Collins, who has managed the Mets to just four home wins in the second half. "But you know, I've been sitting around thinking about things. You know, we set the bar pretty high in April and May. For a club that wasn't supposed to be very good, we set the bar up there and I'm proud of that, proud that we did that. And I think it's great that there are expectations here, and we expect to play that way. Right now, we cannot seem to recreate what was happening in April."
In the first half, the Mets thrived on hitting with runners in scoring position. On Wednesday night, they finished 1-for-8.
Heeeeere's Robert: While Harvey got no support from his offense, he got plenty of it from left-handed reliever Robert Carson. When Harvey left a bases loaded mess with nobody out in the sixth, Carson cleaned it up by generating a pair of pop-ups and a harmless fly ball, preserving a one-run outing for the starter.
"That was awesome," Harvey said. "He deserved all the credit for the 1-0 score."
Carson, 23, admitted to battling some nerves. He couldn't recall entering a game this season with the bases loaded and nobody out. But his success in a big spot only bolstered his chances for making next year's Opening Day roster.
"It's a real confidence boost for me," he said.
In 12 appearances this season, Carson has entered with runners on base just three times. However, he has stranded all five of those baserunners.
Said Collins: "Robert Carson getting out of that jam might be the biggest outing I've seen him have in the three years I've been around him."
All it takes is one: The Anti-Harvey award went to lefty reliever Justin Hampson. In the seventh, Hampson relieved struggling righty Bobby Parnell, who allowed a hit and walked a pair to load the bases with one out. Hampson needed only one pitch to get Adam LaRoche to hit into a double play
The Mets caught a strategic break earlier in the inning. With nobody out, runners on first and second, and the Mets only down 1-0, Nationals slugger Bryce Harper (who has 18 homers) bunted the runners over. With first base open, Parnell walked Zimmerman, then gave way for Hampson's express performance.
Extras: Reliever Jon Rauch allowed Ian Desmond's solo shot in the eighth inning to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead. Rauch had not been victimized by a long ball in 31 appearances (since June 23 against the Yankees)... Lucas Duda finished 2-for-3 with a walk while making his first start of the season at first base. He moved to left field in the seventh to make way for Ike Davis, who pinch-hit for Jason Bay in the sixth. Collins said before the game that he is looking to give Duda more chances to play in the closing weeks of the season... Third baseman David Wright (2-for-4) moved closer to eclipsing Steady Eddie Kranepool's franchise hits record. At 1,409 hits, Wright needs just 10 more to claim the record, which has stood since 1979. Wright is on a seven-game hit streak, hitting .357 (10-for-28) in that span.
Injury report: Daniel Murphy's sore lower back kept him from starting although he felt good enough to make a pinch-hitting appearance. He flied out to end the game, stranding a pair of runners. He expects to play in Friday's series opener against the Brewers... Infielder Ronny Cedeno started for Murphy but he didn't finish the game. He left after five innings with a tight right hamstring. Collins said Cedeno complained of the tightness a few days ago though it had gone away until resurfacing on Wednesday night. His status for Friday is unclear... Infielder Zach Lutz will undergo surgery on Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery to repair his fractured left hamate bone.