All-Star Game Starter, Mets Ace Harvey a Connecticut Kid With Big Heart
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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
On an overcast muggy day in June, Harvey has his father’s words in mind as he takes the mound against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. If Harvey is the Dark Knight, then the Marlins have been his Bane up to this point. The last time he faced them he endured one of his worst games in the big leagues. He lasted only five innings—his shortest outing of the season—and gave up a season-high 10 hits and four earned runs. The performance caused his ERA to balloon from 1.87 to 2.17.
“These guys have been giving him trouble because they’ve been coming out swinging aggressively early in the count and obviously he’s a fastball pitcher,” explains Mets catcher John Buck.
It’s clear before the game that Harvey wants revenge for the last outing. “If I don’t do well against a certain team, I’m excited to get back out there and get better against them the next time,” he says. “It’s the kind of person I am.”
Ed and Jackie Harvey are in the stadium, but on days like this it’s hard for them to watch their son pitch. “The stomach turns over a few times,” Ed says, not happy being on the other side of the fence, powerless to help. “The Major League hitters are the best in the world, so if you make a mistake on one pitch you can lose the game.”
Matt Harvey takes the mound, staring down opponents with dark eyes that, like his father’s, are hawklike in their intensity.
Never let anybody tell you you’re not good enough.
With his calm, relaxed throwing motion, Harvey begins to tear through the Marlins lineup. Over seven innings he allows only six hits and one run. He also strikes out six, becoming the National League leader in strikeouts.
“I think he showed them today that he’s able to adjust,” Buck says after the game, which the Mets ultimately lose.
Mets manager Terry Collins acknowledges his team has wasted a strong effort from the young pitcher. “We’re coming to expect a lot out of him and he continues to deliver,” he says. “When he gives up a run, it’s almost surprising.”
Standing by his locker, Harvey seems oblivious to the hoopla around him. He follows his dad’s advice, keeps his head down and strives for the moon. So far, the soundtrack to his journey has been the loud wallop his fastball makes as it smacks into his catcher’s mitt, followed by the deep-throated yell of umpires across the league: “S-T-R-I-K-E THREE!”
“It has been kind of crazy, all the stuff that has happened [this season], but I have not lost focus—baseball is still number one,” Harvey says. “I just want to be the best pitcher I can be.”