MIAMI -- On another afternoon, with someone other than Jose Fernandez taking turns with him on the mound, Matt Harvey could have crowed more about seven strong innings at Marlins Park. The switch now fully flipped, Harvey's reconstruction appears legitimate, his ERA shrinking from 6.08 to 4.95 in two starts.
Harvey's only problem in Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Marlins was that Fernandez was undeniably better, striking out 14 batters over seven innings of his own. The one run that Harvey allowed stood tall, even if the positives for him far outweighed the negatives.
"I think it's going to ease Matt's mind most of all, and that's the one that counts," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He felt good about what he did today, how he got through it. He kept the damage down and pitched great. It was one of those games, a great pitching matchup head-to-head. That's exactly what you'd expect, a 1-0 game."
For the second straight start, Harvey was dynamic, reaching 98 mph with his fastball and sitting comfortably at 96. The extra velocity helped him extend a sudden scoreless-innings streak to 12, until J.T. Realmuto drove home the game's only run with a single in the fifth. Though Harvey retired seven of the eight batters he faced after that, the damage was irreversible with Fernandez -- a fellow Scott Boras client and Tommy John patient -- in the other dugout.
"We saw two aces today in Matt Harvey and Fernandez on the mound," said Mets catcher Rene Rivera, who has been behind the plate for each of Harvey's last two starts. "That's what they're supposed to do: Get hitters out. You see it on both sides. If you ask the other side about Harvey, they're going to tell you the same thing: 'He was good, he was nasty.' That's how the games go, 1-0."
Considering the Mets had already clinched a series victory heading into Sunday and were playing without half of their normal starting lineup, this one was a bit easier to swallow. But the silver lining for the Mets was Harvey himself, who has allowed one run in his last 14 innings. Prior to that, Harvey had given up 14 runs in two starts, lasting a combined 7 2/3 innings. He worked between starts to correct issues both mechanical and mental, facing live hitters and overturning every stone.
While Harvey is not convinced he is completely back to his old All-Star-caliber form, the evidence to that end is growing overwhelming.
"It's still two starts," Harvey said. "Obviously, the massive struggles that happened before, the only thing you want to think of is not letting that creep back in. Today was, you could say, a second step from the last start. Obviously, going deep into the game and feeling pretty good, it's a positive."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.