PHEW! All the hype was surrounding the return of Matt Harvey, The Dark Knight, to the Citi Field mound. What we got was good, not great pitching from Harvey and a whole lot more, that really left the fans, analysts, players and coaches all scratching their heads. The Mets never trailed in this game despite surrendering 4 home runs and held on to win 6-5. The real challenge for me is somehow limiting this post to just 3 strikes.
Matt Harvey must be included as he was the main act, even though he may have been overshadowed by some shady umpiring. Harvey pitched 6 innings, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits (2 home runs), 0 walks and 8 punch outs. The 1st inning was absolutely electric. The fans came out in full force and he did not totally disappoint, striking out 3 in the first, around an Utley solo shot to the short porch in right, and touching 99 on the radar gun. If not for some confused umpires, challenges (or challenging a challenge of a challenge) and 2 hit batters which caused a lot of down time for Harvey, he may have not lost his edge so quickly and had a more dominant outing.
This team has regained its edge. After Phillies starting pitcher, Buchanan, plunked 2 Mets in the hand (Cuddyer and Flores), Harvey came back a few innings later, and instead of issuing a free pass to to Utley with first base open, drilled him right in between the numbers. Mets fans have become so accustomed to no fight, no edge, no balls from this team, that it was absolutely great to see. It was especially great because it was done the correct way. Harvey did not aim above the shoulders, he did not intend to hurt Utley, but he did intend to send a message. That message was received loud and clear; Harvey and the current Mets are not to be pushed around, by anyone. This spilled over to Terry Collins as well when he got tossed for flipping out on the home plate umpire (more on that guy in a second) during his catcher interference call with Ryan Howard at the plate.
Homeplate umpire, Alfonso Marquez, had a brutal night. The crazy part is that it had nothing to do with balls and strikes. There was a phantom hit by pitch to the Phillies, a phantom catcher’s interference on d’Arnaud, and a phantom missed slide at home on Duda (which was eventually ruled correctly via a failed Phillies challenge). I don’t know what the umpires ate at their pre-game meal, but I suggest nixing whatever it was from future menus.
I know this is cheating because I said 3 or less, but I have to touch on this because it was great. The Mets have long been rumored to have the best broadcast team in baseball with Gary, Keith and Ron and I believe it also extends to their pre and post-game SNY team as well. Not only did Ron Darling clearly express his frustration with the length of time of the challenge which turned into a non challenge when a Philly was phantomly hit by a Harvey pitch, but he followed it up over the air by saying; “That’s what happens when you stop the game in the middle of the friggin game!” Refreshingly honest and real, which is what we have come to expect from this Mets broadcast team. Continuing the refreshing honesty and insight, we had this gem tweeted out from new comer to the SNY team in former Mets and Phillies pitcher Nelson Figueroa:
Get your head out your A$$ Marquez and crew
— Nelson Figueroa Jr. (@FigSNY) April 15, 2015