Matt Harvey showed up Monday. Twice.
The first, and most vital to the Mets, was when he fired seven scintillating innings in a 1-0 win over the White Sox at a fired-up Citi Field.
The second was when he consented to a routine postgame interview.
Enough has been said about Harvey’s misstep from his previous start, when he ducked the media after getting bombed in Washington and left his teammates to speak for him.
It was a mistake — Harvey admitted as much Monday — and it was the second thing he corrected.
The first was whatever mechanical flaw or mental block that was keeping him from being the dominating pitcher Mets fans have come to expect.
Manager Terry Collins’ vote as to which side of it was more important to fix?
“The mental adjustments,” he said.
Harvey had all of it back: the 98-mph heater, the sharp-breaking slider, the effective changeup. The Dark Knight swagger.
“It helps when you go out there and throw seven scoreless,” David Wright said. “You get a little of that cockiness back. That’s what we’ve been accustomed to seeing and kind of spoiled us the last few years.”
Harvey allowed two hits, walked one and struck out six (four in a row in the third and fourth innings) en route to his first victory since May 8. He was perfect for the first 4 1⁄3 innings and worked out of a huge jam in his final inning in a scoreless game. Harvey’s record improved to 4-7 and his ERA fell from 6.08 to 5.37.
The Mets went ahead in the bottom of the seventh on Neil Walker’s leadoff home run against Jose Quintana. Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia — who had allowed six runs in his last two outings in non-save situations — made it stand up.
Harvey was in command from the beginning. After his last outing, he wasn’t even assured of making this one until the Mets’ brain trust decided the next morning not to skip him, which an off-day would have allowed and which many would have applauded as a sound move.
So the Mets can take a bow for making the right call. Harvey wanted to try to pitch his way out of his woes, not tinker endlessly on the sidelines or in the minor leagues.
Harvey faced the minimum in the first six innings. The only baserunner was J.B. Shuck, who lined a one-out single to right in the fifth. Brett Lawrie followed with a vicious line drive that Wilmer Flores snared at first base and turned into an inning-ending double play.
The seventh inning was notable for Harvey because he hadn’t reached it yet this season and it was the third time through the batting order, which has been a particular problem for him. But his pitch count was low and he was able to wiggle out of a sticky situation.
Harvey walked Adam Eaton on a 3-and-2 pitch to open the inning and then allowed a single to Jose Abreu. Melky Cabrera, the White Sox’s No. 3 hitter, sacrificed both runners over.
“You kind of think about the worst at that point,” Harvey said. That’s the kind of honest thought the best athletes aren’t afraid to share and pretty much why we do postgame interviews to begin with — to get the players’ unfiltered thoughts and pass them along to you, dear reader.
With the fans chanting “Har-vey, Har-vey,” Todd Frazier hit a foul pop to first and Shuck grounded to short to end the inning.
The “Har-vey” chants got louder as he reached the dugout and accepted high-fives from his teammates.
After it was over, after grumbling about the proximity of cameras and notebooks in front of his locker as he dressed (not an unreasonable grumble point), Harvey answered every question, including the one about why he didn’t talk last time.
“I was frustrated with myself,” he said. “I know that’s not right and it’s unacceptable.”
Maybe this time it would have been OK. Harvey’s performance spoke for itself.