I was at Citi Field on Friday night for one reason: to see Matt Harvey. After being at Harvey's first home start back in April, I'd fallen into a string of missing him by a game, or maybe two days, or whatever, but basically I just felt like I wasn't seeing him enough for my liking. So, on Tuesday, I decided to invoke my Plan Holder Privileges. I have two seats on my plan, but as I've mentioned, sometimes either I can't make it and can't sell the tickets, or I can't find someone to go with and instead I just go by myself. In the past, this would have meant eating the ticket or selling it to some geezer outside the stadium who invariably never actually shows up in the seat. However, last year, the Mets introduced a new policy in which unused plan tickets could in fact be exchanged for seats to other games. I don't know who came up with this idea, but this person needs to be nominated for a Nobel Prize for special brilliance. I invariably end up with extra tickets here and there, and now I can actually use them for some particular benefit. In this case, it meant trading in the unused ticket from the Mets/Cardinals crapfest I attended 2 weeks ago and getting a ticket for Harvey Day.
There was, of course, some concern about Harvey based on his awful outing in Pittsburgh and his Manager's assertion that he had a case of dead arm. If Harvey had a dead arm, I'd really like to see what happens when it's alive, seeing as how he charged out to the mound tonight with smoke coming out of his ears and struck out the side on 10 pitches. The second and third innings passed with similar results. Some Marlin batters did make contact, but none of them actually reached base. Harvey was pitching with his general ferocity, and the game kind of took on the feel of another game I'd seen Harvey pitch two years ago, in which he retired the first 20 batters in order and allowed all of one infield single over 9 innings (typically, he didn't win because the Mets didn't score any runs for him).
But, then came the 4th inning, and things basically went to hell in a handbasket. First, Dee Gordon did what has to be the most Marlins thing I've ever seen done: He bunted for a hit to break up the perfect game. The only way that could have been more Marlins is if he'd done it leading off the 7th inning, but I digress.
It was just that kind of night.
Lucas Duda got the Mets one run back when he launched a Home Run halfway up the Pepsi Porch—not that you'd notice from the reaction of the crowd—but Harvey gave up another run in the 5th of annoying variety. Granderson Homered in the 6th and the Mets started to put a little rally together, but then Daniel Murphy had a Daniel Murphy and hit into a Double play. This was how it was going down. Harvey made a couple of bad pitches and got tagged, and meanwhile, Dan Haren, who's entire career has been a series of bad pitches was going to get away scot-free because this was one of those nights when the Mets decided not to hit. Harvey kept motoring along, through the 6th, 7th and through the 8th innings without allowing the Marlins anything further, and thus finished his night with a gritty 8 inning effort that featured an incongruous 4 runs and 6 hits, and a typical 1 walk and 11 strikeouts. Go figure. On a night like this, he should win but at that point, it didn't seem likely. Really, I think I could have predicted the endgame by that point. The Mets got a couple of hits off of A.J. Ramos—who looks every bit like one of these closers whose brains you just want to beat in repeatedly—and the Mets scored a run to make it 4-3, but they got no closer, and the Mets lost a stupid game in stupid fashion, wasting a perfectly good outing by a perfectly good pitcher in the process.
I've mentioned that I'm usually in a less-than-pleasant mood when I go to a Mets game and they lose anyway. The crowd, or, more appropriately the meatheads therein put me in even less of a good mood. It was, of course, Free Shirt Friday, and on this night the Mets were giving out perhaps the most boring Free Shirt I've ever seen, but it was sponsored by Goya, and as such, Goya had a table set up outside the stadium and was handing out free bags of something after the game let out. I tried to get close to see if it was anything good, and upon seeing it was plantain chips, I decided to pass, but at that point, I was immediately run over by a group of Kappa Phis screaming "GIMME FREE FOOD!" and some other similarly well-behaved youths scampering away with armfuls of bags. I had to pause for a second because I wonder if the allure of free food at this time of night actually trumped being aware of what you were about to shovel into your mouth. It was that kind of night. I have to remind myself that next time I have to go see Matt Harvey pitch, I should make sure it's on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. It might make for a more pleasant experience.