Mets ace Matt Harvey was given the chance to set the record straight, asked Sunday night if he had any say in the innings limit that forced him to leave early in what became an 11-2 debacle against the Yankees.
His answer: another non-answer.
"Like I said, I'm getting ready for every start, to be out there," Harvey said. "The last thing I want to do is not play and not pitch, especially if we get into the postseason. That's where everybody wants to play and everybody wants to be. That's never changed for me one bit. That's always been on my mind. I always want to be out there."
And so it went for the Mets, with Harvey insisting upon his desire to keep pitching, though only a few weeks ago, he backed his agent when he declared he would be limited to 180 innings.
The nightmare unspooled in the most gut-wrenching way possible Sunday night, ripping at the emotions of a fan base still haunted by collapses of long ago Septembers.
Here was Harvey, the franchise ace, cruising along with a one-run lead against the Yankees. He had thrown only 77 pitches in five shutout innings. He struck out seven.
But he was limited to only five innings. When the time came, he was pulled.
The night unraveled from there. It was swift.
Errors by David Wright and Daniel Murphy. A two-run double by -- who else? -- Carlos Beltran. A three-run homer by Dustin Ackley.
When the dust settled, a 1-0 advantage had been squandered by rookie reliever Hansel Robles.
The Yankees put up another five runs in the eighth off Carlos Torres and Tim Stauffer.
A few days earlier, as the Mets decided to limit Harvey to five innings, manager Terry Collins dreaded having to pull the righthander in the midst of a strong start in a big game. He watched his worst fears come to life.
"It's extremely hard to take him out there," said Collins, who has swallowed his old-school beliefs, all in order to adhere to the innings plan. "It was the perfect storm."
Time had dulled some of the vitriol. At least, it seemed that way until television cameras caught Harvey in the dugout, appearing upset that he'd been pulled early. It was a conflicting image, of course, Harvey seemingly unhappy about an early exit because of an innings limit that he had endorsed.
On social media, Harvey faced more fury. As the stadium emptied, Harvey's Twitter account was flooded with words such as "gutless," "coward" and "disgrace."
"Whatever it is, my job is to get ready," Harvey said when asked about his competitiveness coming into question. "And whenever they call me to pitch, I'm going to be ready for that."
Caught in the middle, Collins offered a defense of Harvey, calling him a "tremendous competitor." Yet, with Harvey slated for two more starts, Collins left open the possibility that they could be shorter than five innings.
Mets captain David Wright was not aware that Harvey would be lifted after five -- regardless of the situation. But for the Mets -- six games up on the Nationals with 13 to play -- this is the reality they face.
"I think that we'd like to have Matt on the mound," Wright said. "But he wasn't. I guess we've got to deal with it . . . It's not ideal."
Sign up for Newsday’s Mets Messages for updates directly to your phone via text, free with a Newsday digital subscription. Learn more at newsday.com/metstext.