Matt Harvey pitches a near-perfect game, shocking no one
Matt Harvey can't really surprise anyone at this point.
The 24-year-old pitched one of the best games in the history of the New York Mets last night, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning, and allowing a lone infield hit to blemish his otherwise immaculate nine innings, with 12 strikeouts to reinforce how unhittable he was.
At Madison Square Garden, where I was covering the Knicks' playoff game against the Indiana Pacers, the televisions in the press box gradually switched over to the Mets. A number of them had S.N.Y. tuned in from the start. Reporters are well aware by now that a Matt Harvey start is essentially a news bulletin waiting to happen.
Johan Santana had been pitching well heading into his June 1 no-hitter last season. It was still shocking when he did it.
But no one seemed shocked that Harvey had taken the perfect game into the seventh. And it didn't feel like Harvey had lost his opportunity when a ground ball to Ruben Tejada turned into an infield hit by Alex Rios by the slimmest of margins. (I couldn't help but think that Mets-finance victim Jose Reyes would have thrown Rios out.)
A pitcher performing at Harvey's level will have another chance at a perfect game, and it will come during his next turn. Throwing his fastball and slider for strikes, given their velocity and movement, along with his changeup and occasional curve, is simply too much for opposing batters to manage. Opposing hitters are putting up a .133 batting average against Harvey. Put another way, if those hitters were a single hitter, he'd have a lower batting average than Harvey himself, a .143 hitter this season.
There's no guarantee he will, of course: as Bob Klapisch pointed out, the only real precedent for this Harvey season in Mets history in Dwight Gooden's 1985. And Gooden didn't throw a perfect game or a no-hitter that season. Gooden got his only no-hitter later, with the Yankees.
It's unfortunate that Harvey, for all his brilliance, received a no-decision, the best no-decision in the history of modern pitching. Seriously.
The Mets won it in the tenth, but no one is walking around wondering if Harvey has what it takes to win because that W in the box score is next to Bobby Parnell's name.
"Everything was obviously working,” said Harvey following the game. "When I can throw my slider for a strike and also bounce it when I need to, that’s when it starts getting fun. That was definitely the best I felt all year."
Not to disagree with Harvey, but he's got a 1.28 E.R.A. this season. It's already been fun for a while now. And it will be again on Sunday, when he is next scheduled to pitch.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
A 30-2 run helped the Knicks earn a much-needed 105-79 win over the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, to tie the series at 1-1.