Objectively, Matt Harvey was outpitched by an unheralded rookie making his second career start. Braves 5, Mets 1.
Discussion and Analysis
Including last night, seven of the Mets’ next nine games come versus the Braves, whose will to win has been compared to a tracked military vehicle. This stretch versus the worst team in baseball precedes the toughest portion of the Mets’ season, as 11 of their next 14 come against the Nationals and Cubs. At a minimum, this Braves series represents a needed opportunity for the Mets to separate themselves from the other Wild Card contenders. Thus, Harvey was asked to shut down the worst offense in baseball — the Braves’ starting lineup’s best hitter had 12 home runs; the rest of their lineup, combined, had four — but he was not up to the task. Harvey has the power to act as his own destroyer; his command was so poor that he walked the nearly unwalkable slap hitters Erick Aybar and Mallex Smith, both of whom came around to score.
It’s been written that the hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see. It’s obvious that the Mets can no longer cover their eyes to avoid watching what the Dark Knight has become. After last night’s clunker, it’s difficult to interpret Harvey’s previous three games (0.90 ERA) as more than an aberration. If you write a line of zeroes, it’s still nothing. Indeed, removing the starts against the White Sox, Marlins and Brewers from his record, Harvey’s allowed 99 baserunners in just 59 1/3 innings. Harvey was once the toast of the city. He was very good. Now, no one’s rose to ask the question: Good — by what standard?
Former Met farmhand John Gant made his second major-league start for the Braves. He was a piece of the trade by which the Mets acquired Kelly Johnson. (No, the other one.) Gant stepped to the mound and pointed to the skyscrapers of the city. He said the Braves had to extinguish the lights at Citi Field, and when they would see the lights of New York go out, they would know that the Braves’ job was done. The 2011 21st-round pick allowed just two hits, a first-inning double to Curtis Granderson and a sixth-inning double to Asdrubal Cabrera. Unlike Matt Harvey, Gant kept his fastball at the edges of the zone and fooled hitters with the movement and deception of his offspeed pitches.
To start the seventh inning with the Braves up three, Gant easily retired Neil Walker and Michael Conforto. When he walked Kelly Johnson on four pitches, however, Braves manager (can you name him?) (I’ll wait.) (No?) Brian Snitker went to the bullpen. Against right-hander Chris Withrow, James Loney singled to extend his hitting streak to six games. Then Kevin Plawecki walked to load the bases. Alejandro De Aza was announced as a pinch-hitter, so Snitker selected southpaw Hunter Cervenka. Terry Collins countered with Wilmer Flores. Flores left Thursday night’s game in the third inning after getting hit by a pitch, but announced that he had recovered and would start on Saturday. Whether or not his hand was sore, Flores struck out on three pitches, ending the Mets’ best threat.
The Mets’ final outs were recorded when James Loney was called for interference for throwing his elbow toward the second baseman’s groin area when he slid to break up a potential double play. It’s hard to picture a more appropriate end to an obscenely poor performance.
Our first rule here…is that one must always see for oneself. Nobody at this website cares that Harvey now leads the National League in pitcher-losses, with nine. We care intensely that the Mets’ former ace is now by far their worst starter.
Three days from Summer Solstice. The sun is shining through the stands into the first basemen's eyes at Citi Field pic.twitter.com/5wxXGmXJ5s
— Scott D. Simon (@scottdsimon) June 17, 2016
“For you motorcycle enthusiasts, it’s almost like [Gant] is starting his motorcycle once before he gets into his windup.” — Ron
/Chase d’Arnaud signals to the Braves’ dugout after a second-inning double/ “I don’t know what that means to the Braves’ bench, but I would have to say they haven’t done it a lot.” — Ron
“Eddie [Perez, Braves first base coach] could really put those fingers down. [Greg] Maddux loved him” — Ron
It is a sin to write this. Matt Harvey is broken and needs an all-expense-paid trip to the instructional league. Steven Matz faces Aaron Blair in tonight’s Fox Game of the Week.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports