It is hard to enjoy the ride when going nowhere in a hurry. So, for the Mets and their fans to attempt taking as much pleasure as possible in the once-every-fifth-day Matt Harvey Happening is obvious enough.
Still, these are the Mets, and even the Matt Harvey silver lining can go dark in a New York minute. When the Diamondbacks' Cody Ross tucked a Harvey pitch just inside the leftfield foul pole for a two-out, three-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday night, a two-run Mets lead and hopes of a three-game winning streak quickly evaporated.
Arizona won, 5-3. Harvey, who surrendered a season-high five earned runs in six-plus innings, was stuck with his second loss in nine decisions. And the Mets' back-to-the-future plans to bank off the currency of youth continue to be a hard sell in a 35-46 season.
There were some interesting Mets sideshows Wednesday night. Solo homers by David Wright and Josh Satin in the fourth inning. A dandy, inning-ending assist in the fourth by shortstop Omar Quintanilla, his headlong dive followed by a backhanded flip to second baseman Daniel Murphy while lying on his stomach. There was Murphy's long, bases-empty home run in the eighth.
But it is the Matt Harvey Traveling Circus and Medicine Show that most enthralls Mets fans. Though rain delayed the first pitch for two hours, the Harvey bandwagon produced the first Citi Field sellout (41,257) since Opening Day.
With the Mets facing a Hydra of problems this season -- lop off one and two seem to sprout -- a less than spectacular Harvey outing was the last thing they needed. Though he escaped a bases-loaded predicament in the first inning thanks to Martin Prado's double-play grounder, after giving up two singles and a walk, Harvey was wobbling by the sixth.
Ross' home run was preceded by Miguel Montero's walk and Prado's single, and followed by Cliff Pennington's single before Harvey ended the inning with a strikeout, one of nine.
Trouble behind, trouble ahead: Harvey returned for the seventh but never got an out. Tony Campana walked, Aaron Hill singled, Eric Chavez doubled. Harvey left.
Even before the evening went sour, Terry Collins spoke of how -- of all the things the team can't afford to mess up -- a major one is Harvey's future.
"When I was farm director in Los Angeles, we had a symposium on pitchers' health,'' Collins said, "and one of the basic things that came out of it: If they're going to break, they're going to break. Nobody knows when . . .
"Is it pitch count? Not necessarily. Is it the workload? Could be. When it's time, it's time. So what everybody does now is make sure they're not overworked, that they're not overused.''
"You go back to get every game report Matt pitched in the minor leagues,'' Collins said. "You won't see 97, 98 a lot. Up here, you see it a lot. That means he's working very, very hard. So you've got to be careful and, obviously, we're going to watch the innings, we're going to watch the pitch counts.
"We're going to enjoy while he's out there, but we also want to enjoy it for a number of years.''
It figures to be a smoother trip than last night.