Matt Harvey was everything the Mets hoped for as he dominated the San Diego Padres, 8-4, in frigid Citi Field tonight. Harvey gave up one hit with ten strikeouts in seven scoreless innings.
All San Diego’s runs came against the bullpen, which is expected to be a Mets’ Achilles Heel this season, but not even it could ruin this night.
Especially impressive was Harvey did it pitching with temperatures in the low 30s after the wind-chill. Harvey was in complete control, but at 94 pitches after seven, manager Terry Collins thought it was time to pull the plug.
“Believe me, later in the season in a close game he’s not going to want to come out. There will be huge argument in taking him out,’’ Collins said. “He was getting stiff. He was cold. Under the circumstances he pitched a very impressive game. In weather like that, the ball feels like a cue ball.’’
Harvey said he doesn’t want to be just a major league pitcher, but a great pitcher, and to do that he’s not afraid of putting in the work as in running the steps in the Citi Field stands this winter. It’s easy to say you want to be good, but the key is to make the effort.
The victory was the first of Harvey’s career at Citi Field, and he became the fourth Mets pitcher to register at least 80 strikeouts in his first 11 starts with the team, joining Pedro Martinez, Dwight Gooden and Nolan Ryan.
“Today it was the fastball,’’ Harvey said of what was working. “I threw some good sliders when I needed and I threw my change-up in timely counts. … I said all spring training I wanted to pound the zone and I wasn’t about to let the cold effect me.’’
Harvey wore short sleeves and refused a jacket when he was on the bases: “In my mind, a jacket doesn’t belong on a baseball field.’’
That’s the mentality of an offensive lineman, and the Mets haven’t had that in a long time.
POWER PLUS: One of the pre-season concerns was if the Mets would hit with power. Collin Cowgill hit a grand slam in the opener, and Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and John Buck each hit two-run homers last night off left-hander Clayton Richard. That’s ten RBI on four homers.
“Duda and Ike hitting them off a lefty is huge,’’ Collins said. “If those two guys are hitting, it’s a tough line-up to get through.’’
The Mets have outscored the Padres, 19-6, in winning their first two games.
MARCUM UPDATE: Shaun Green returned to New York from Port St. Lucie to have his neck and shoulder re-examined. He’s already on the disabled list, and Collins said Aaron Laffey would start in his place Sunday against Miami.
“He has some real discomfort running from his shoulder up through his neck,’’ Collins said. “What that is, where it starts, what’s causing it, I think we won’t know until he sees the doctor tomorrow.’’
The Mets signed Laffey as a free agent in December. At 27, he’s also pitched with Cleveland, Seattle, Toronto and the Yankees. He went 4-6 with a 4.56 ERA in 22 games, including 16 starts with the Blue Jays last year.
“Hopefully he comes in Sunday and pitches very well,’’ Collins said. “If he does, he most likely will get another start. But we’re going to just take one start at a time right now.’’
BATTER UP: With the win, the Mets moved to 2-0 on the season. Harvey’s performance gives them hope for optimism and a season that might be better than anyone expected. The Mets will now go for the series sweep of the Padres at 1:10 matinee tomorrow afternoon at Citi Field. Dillon Gee will get his chance to shine next, and goes up against Eric Stults for the Padres.