Right-hander pulled after throwing 103 pitches over six shutout innings
By Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- The color scheme said it all. Thousands of white rally towels spun around Citi Field on Friday, contrasting against Yoenis Cespedes' neon arm sleeve and the alternative-uniform blue starter Matt Harvey selected. Make no mistake, the 39,401 chanting, cheering and eventually screaming during the Mets' 6-4 loss to the Red Sox gave this late-August matchup against a last-place team an October feel.
David Wright back at third base. Cespedes at the plate with the game on the line. A large crowd breathing out one big, dizzying breath of excitement after another. And most of all, Harvey on the mound, rested and putting up zeros. Until he wasn't.
"He wanted to throw another inning," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I just said, 'We can't do it.'"
With New York up, 2-0, Collins pulled Harvey for a pinch-hitter in the sixth. The right-hander was making his first start since Aug. 16, a span of 11 days designed to give Harvey extra rest and curtail the innings piled upon his surgically-repaired right elbow. No matter that the Red Sox had managed just two singles off Harvey, or that he had struck out eight. Just because it feels like October doesn't mean the calendar has actually flipped.
"In a playoff situation, he's still in that game," Collins said. "In the postseason, it's a different story. We do not plan on having to skip him again. We don't want to, but you can't say we're not going to. What were trying to do is certainly avoid another other disruption to the rotation, except for with Noah Syndergaard. I just said, 'We just skipped you and there's a reason, due to the fatigue were not going to [overwork] you the first night back.'"
Harvey threw 103 pitches, 12 off his season high, and admitted to feeling a little rust early on. He walked the game's second batter, Pablo Sandoval, and allowed a single to the next hitter, Xander Bogaerts. After that he retired 16 of 17 batters.
But as has become an alarming characteristic of many of Harvey's starts, that wasn't enough to win. Collins called on Logan Verrett, who started in Harvey's place last week in Colorado, to pitch the seventh. Verrett allowed three runs via a pair of homers. It was the third start this season Harvey didn't win despite throwing six or more shutout innings. He's not received the win in 17 of 31 career starts in which he allowed one run or less, the most such starts for a pitcher over his first 60 career games in the last century.
"Big picture is going forward," Harvey said. "And although I wanted to stay out there, it's ultimately his call and hopefully those innings are saved for us playing in October."
Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.