PHOENIX -- Three losses and a pair of no-decisions in five games irked Matt Harvey. Eleven earned runs over his last 12 innings made him ballistic. So when Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered with two outs in the second inning of Thursday's 6-2 Mets win over the D-backs, dumping Harvey into yet another early hole, he was admittedly livid.
"I kind of got angry that my last couple starts weren't very good," Harvey said. "I think I needed to put an end to that."
From that point forward, Harvey grew more aggressive, challenging hitters with 97-mph fastballs and striking out five consecutive batters in the third and fourth innings. He did not throw another curveball or changeup until the fourth, firing 31 consecutive pitches at 88 mph or faster -- most of them much faster. Harvey made only one more significant mistake the rest of the night, giving up a Paul Goldschmidt homer in the sixth, en route to his first win since May 1. He improved to 6-3 with a 3.05 ERA.
"For me, it was more of an anger than anything," Harvey said. "I just tried to keep them off the board."
That was something Harvey struggled to do in his previous two starts, staving off talk of "dead arm" as he gave up 11 runs in 12 innings to the Pirates and Marlins. Harvey's arm was not "dead," the right-hander insisted, and his 11-strikeout loss last Friday seemed to vindicate that line of thinking. He was simply fighting with his own mechanics, something that leaked into a messy first inning at Chase Field.
The first batter Harvey faced, Ender Inciarte, hit a line drive out to center field. Then a single from A.J. Pollock, a walk to Goldschmidt and, finally a double play. An inning later, it was Saltalamacchia's homer.
Cut the anger. Cue the improvement.
"He came in and he said he needed something to kick-start him," manager Terry Collins said. "He got after it after that."