Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Style vs. Suspense

I had this internal debate during the 9th inning of tonight's game. While I was certainly glad to have been present at Tuesday night's win, would I have preferred to have been at tonight's game to see Matt Harvey get his first career Shutout? I don't know that I gave myself a definitive answer. Certainly, I always take the win first. Certainly, Tuesday's game had in drama what tonight's had in style. But ultimately, I suppose I gravitate to the landmark pitching performances first and foremost. The CGShO is kind of a dying art form in today's game, so when it happens, particularly when a Met does it, I have to give it a particular nod. Hell, the plain old CG is often worth taking note of.

I've certainly been to my share of CGShOs in my years of going to games, and I've seen them thrown by a wide variety of pitchers. Bobby Jones, of course, threw my most memorable CGShO, but I've also seen them come from Dwight Gooden, Johan Santana, Al Leiter, Rick Reed and even some bizarre names like Nelson Figueroa and Miguel Batista. I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.

Yet Matt Harvey probably threw a better game than anyone I'd just mentioned at a game I attended earlier this season, on May 7th against the White Sox. We already know this game, but just to refresh your memory, Harvey threw 9 innings, gave up 1 hit, no runs, no walks and struck out 12. Were Alex Rios a step slower or Ruben Tejada a bit headier, Harvey probably would have thrown a Perfect Game, because I've never seen a team look as completely outclassed like the White Sox did that night. Surely, Harvey would have been rewarded with his first career CGShO on that night, except that, in a theme that has typified his season, his teammates couldn't get him a damn run. Harvey departed his masterpiece with the score 0-0 and instead rooted on as Bobby Parnell ended up vulturing a victory that probably should have been his.

Tonight, Harvey was just as dominant against the Colorados as he was against Chicago, if only with fewer strikeouts (the idea that Harvey was more "economical" tonight is a myth—Harvey threw 106 pitches tonight but actually threw 105 against Chicago). The Colorados managed only 4 hits, Harvey didn't walk anyone, struck out 6, and only allowed a runner past 1st Base in the 9th inning when Charlie McCharlieface advanced on Indifference (this after smashing a line drive off of Harvey's knee on an 0-2 pitch that probably gave every Mets fan a heart attack, except that Harvey tends to treat these things as minor irritants and immediately told Ray Ramirez to get the hell away from him). But performances like this have become commonplace for Harvey, as he's taken his place as one of the best pitchers in the league. More important on this night was the fact that his teammates backed him up with 5 runs, a virtual avalanche of support. Harvey also didn't have the specter of history on his back, since he gave up a 2nd inning hit to Todd Helton. Instead, he had a lead, he had a team starting a B-lineup and he could just rear back, pitch his game and cruise to the finish. By the 7th, with his pitch count still low, you could see he began to taste it and come the 9th inning, he had that Johan Santana look on his face like he'd boot Terry Collins into Flushing Bay if he tried to remove him from this game. Of course, such a decision was not necessary and Harvey finally finished off what he started, picking up what had been a somewhat elusive first career CGShO.

So, yeah. I suppose deep down I probably would have rather been at tonight's game. The drama and intensity of last night was great, and I'm certainly not complaining, nor am I going to give back the Win (a loss, on the other hand...). But when Harvey pitches, everyone stops and watches, because you never know when you might get a performance like the one he had tonight. Most important, however, is that tonight's game was played in a brisk 2 hours, 20 minutes, and was over by 9:30, or, one hour earlier than last night's 3+ hour slog. Not only is Harvey talented, he's also quick.

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