After difficult start to 2016 season, righty dominates White Sox
By Troy Provost-Heron
NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey and the Mets have been searching for answers. New York's Opening Day starter had been in the midst of the worst tailspin of his career, and a 1-4 record with a 7.56 ERA in the month of May was the result.
Through it all, though, the Mets had confidence that Harvey would bounce back, and on Monday, at least for one day, he did. The right-hander recorded his fourth win of the season after allowing just two hits and one walk over seven shutout innings, while striking out six, guiding the Mets to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox.
"There's a lot of emotion," Harvey said. It's been a while. … The idea is to do everything you can to help the team, and I felt like I wasn't doing that very well. Today, to be able to go out in a one-run ballgame like that and be able to put up zeros, was very exciting."
Harvey (4-7, 5.37 ERA) began his outing by retiring the first 13 batters he faced before J.B. Shuck singled to right in the fifth inning. After first baseman Wilmer Flores doubled Shuck off first following a diving catch on a line drive by Brett Lawrie, Harvey had faced the minimum through six.
Entering Monday's outing, though, Harvey had allowed a .509 average when facing batters for the third time, and in the seventh, the White Sox threatened to continue that trend.
The 27-year-old began the frame by walking Adam Eaton and then surrendered a single to Jose Abreu. Melky Cabrera advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, but Harvey managed to escape the inning unscathed by getting Todd Frazier to pop out and Shuck to ground out.
"Obviously, when it's 0-0 and you have a couple of runners on like that, you kind of think about the worst at that point when things haven't been going that great," Harvey said. "To hold the runners on base like that and be able to get out of it was definitely a good feeling."
Harvey threw his four fastest pitches of the season on Monday, topping out at 98.5 mph on a fastball to Lawrie in the second inning.
As Harvey walked back toward the dugout following his final inning -- the seven-inning outing being his longest of the season -- Mets manager Terry Collins saw everything he needed to see.
"The emotion," Collins said. "The intensity. When he got out of that inning in the seventh, he was genuinely fired up, and that's great to see."
In between each of his last two starts, Harvey has taken the mound in front of an empty Citi Field, tossing simulation innings with Matt Reynolds -- currently at Triple-A Las Vegas -- and Alejandro De Aza at the plate. As a result of those sessions, Harvey corrected an inconsistent arm slot and got more comfortable out of the stretch.
On Monday, all of that work paid off, and now, at least for the time being, Harvey can stop searching for answers and start to build on something.
"I think it's a first step," Harvey said. "Obviously, this isn't going to mean anything unless I continue to do this and stay with what we've been working on. It's a work in progress, but I'm happy that I was able to go out there, feel comfortable in my mechanics and get the job done."
Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.