Matt Harvey was scheduled to pitch.
There are certain games, in the now 378 that I've attended, that hold a particularly warm place for me for sentimental reasons, not necessarily because they were great games or part of a great season, but just because that particular game was one that I remember fondly, and last night's game certainly has to be counted among them. It was, of course, the first game I'd been to since my Father passed away and although as I'd mentioned Baseball was not a connector between us, what it represents to me is often a temporary escape from the mishigas of life. I've needed that escape quite a bit and the Mets have been kind enough to respond by going on a real good hot streak, but there's always something much more personal about being at a game as opposed to watching it on TV.
So that was the stage that was set for me on Tuesday night, with Matt Harvey on the mound, whom I always seem to miss by a day or two, but not tonight, which was good because Harvey had one of those nights where he basically treated his opponent as a minor annoyance. He didn't win by blowing the Colorados out of the box with heat; in fact by my watch his velocity seemed a tick low, but instead he just placed his pitches exactly where he wanted, which happened to be in spots where Colorado hitters would make just enough contact to hit a slow ground ball or a lazy fly ball of no particular consequence. Rinse, repeat and for 8 innings Harvey made a reasonably good Colorado lineup look silly. For his efforts, he allowed no runs, walked no batters, only struck out 4 and allowed 4 hits, although I'd hesitate to call 3 of those 4 hits since they were little more than well-placed ground balls. One was a ball that Juan Uribe double-clutched on and threw too late. The second was overturned on replay. The 3rd was bobbled by Uribe outright and was only charitably scored a hit. Only in the 7th did the Colorados get a legitimate hit, a ringing double by Mr. Moustache Ben Paulsen (whose publicity photo belies his true mutant facial hair), but Paulsen promptly atoned for this particular malfeasance by getting himself doubled off when Pete LaNosehair lined out to second.
Harvey was so dominant that it wasn't too concerning that the Mets were having no luck scoring against Chris Rusin. It wasn't for lack of effort; they'd managed to get men on base, but not a key hit until the 6th inning when Michael Cuddyer singled and Travis d'Arnaud reached on an infield hit, and with 2 outs, Ruben Tejada, who somehow continues to back into good fortune, inside outed a pitch to right field to score Cuddyer.
That right there was probably enough for Harvey, and with his pitch count at merely 97, the sentimental sap in me, which was out in full force last night, was hoping the Mets would go down quickly and give Harvey the opportunity to finish out the CGShO. There was no good reason to think he wouldn't do so, although given that 2 of the Colorados best hitters were due up on the 9th, Collins couldn't be blamed for not wanting to push it. Still, if the Mets had managed to score an insurance run before Harvey's spot in the lineup came around, maybe he would have stayed in. But that didn't happen. John Axford only succeeded in loading the bases and then departed for Boone Logan when Curtis Granderson was announced as a Pinch Hitter. Logan and Granderson squared off in the same situation they'd found themselves in on Monday and the result was basically the same. This time, Logan walked Granderson to force home an insurance run and then allowed a 2-run double to Juan Lagares that had me bouncing off the walls and tilting the game squarely in the Mets favor, so much so that Jeurys Familia sat down altogether in favor of Eric O'Flaherty. O'Flaherty allowed a double to Jose Reyes (5 years ago that's a triple for Jose without question) but that was about it.
I know most Mets fans of my ilk (and there aren't an overwhelming number of us) know what I'm talking about when I talk about the idea of games that are sentimental favorites. We all have our share, I'm sure. On a night when I really needed to be at a Mets game, and on a night when I really needed to see a Mets win, just to lift my spirits a little bit, Matt Harvey went out and delivered that for me. This wasn't anyone's definition of a memorable game in the Baseball sense and Harvey himself probably wouldn't think of this game beyond "I pitched well and should have finished the job," and he'd probably never see this but I hope he knows that this particular game and his performance will stick with me.