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Mets' Matt Harvey makes his case for call-up

The Bisons' Matt Harvey throws to a Mud

The Bisons' Matt Harvey throws to a Mud Hens batter during the first inning at Coca Cola field in Buffalo. (July 16, 2012) Credit: Buffalo News / Mark Mulville

BUFFALO -- If this was Matt Harvey's final audition for a major-league call-up, he got to play several different roles.

The 23-year-old righthander had his complete repertoire put to the test Monday night for the Buffalo Bisons before an audience that included J.P. Ricciardi, special assistant to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

Harvey had an uneven start, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the Bisons' 4-2 loss to the Toledo Mud Hens but also dealing with control issues. He got a no-decision after allowing three hits and two runs in 62/3 innings.

Harvey (7-4, 3.34 ERA) struck out four, running his season total to 106, second in the International League. But he also fell behind in the count too often for Bisons manager Wally Backman's liking, walking four, throwing a wild pitch and hitting a batter.

"He was inconsistent in the strike zone," Backman said. "With Matt, his stuff is so good, at times he can overpower hitters, and I don't care what level it's at . . . But he pitched behind in the count and you're not going to get away with that too often.''

Harvey hadn't pitched since July 4 -- not counting two innings in last week's Triple-A All-Star Game -- and was dealing with the hype of his first possible call-up to the big leagues.

Ricciardi discussed that possibility before the game. "I don't think this is a make-or-break start for him or anything like that," he said. "I can tell you that I'm not up here to make that decision . . . If that decision comes, it wouldn't be based, I think, on just [last night]. I'm just here to really see where he's at . . . I wasn't told that this is an audition for him, that [he pitches] well and he's in the big leagues . . . We'd be foolish to rush him in any way, shape or form."

But with a hole in the rotation for Saturday at Citi Field because Dillon Gee is sidelined after shoulder surgery, Harvey made his case that the time is now for his major-league debut.

"He's going to be a bigleaguer," Ricciardi said. "When it is, only time will tell . . . Ultimately, Matt will be pitching for the Mets at some point."

The 6-4, 225-pounder threw 101 pitches, 59 for strikes. His fastball hovered around 93 mph, touching 95 a few times, and he got several strikeouts on changeups.

Does he feel major league-ready? "I do," he said. "[Last night] I wasn't happy with as many walks, but I feel like my last couple starts have been pretty good. I'm feeling confident with all my pitches."

He walked the first two hitters in the fourth but got two strikeouts to get out of the jam. In the sixth, his no-hit bid was broken up by a single by Argenis Diaz. Another single and a walk loaded the bases, but he got a groundout and a strikeout to limit the damage to one run. "When I needed to make a pitch,'' he said, "I was able to do that."

Notes & quotes: Rehabbing Mets outfielder Jason Bay went 0-for-2 with two walks for the Bisons. He had one slip-up in leftfield when he lost a ball in the lights that fell in for a double.

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