Right-hander fans five but allows four extra-base hits to Braves
By Troy Provost-Heron
NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey seemingly had it all figured out. After posting a 3-7 record with a 6.08 ERA through his first 10 starts of the season, the right-hander responded with three starts in which he allowed just two runs over 20 innings.
On Friday, though, Harvey did not possess the same stuff, and in turn could not produce the same results, allowing four runs on seven hits over six innings in the Mets' 5-1 series-opening loss to the Braves at Citi Field.
"It's just baseball," Harvey said. "You make good pitches, you make bad pitches and over the course of a long season you're going to have starts where things go your way when you make bad pitches and another start you are going to make pitches that people hit and you don't get away with those mistakes. Today was mainly about mistakes."
Harvey seemed to be on his game early, needing only 21 pitches to get through the first two innings while only surrendering a double to Chase d'Arnaud.
Ultimately, though, that sharp line drive into the left-center-field gap by d'Arnaud proved to be the precursor for Harvey's struggles.
In his previous three starts, the 27-year-old had only allowed two extra base hits, but on Friday the Braves tagged him for four, the two biggest coming in the third.
After walking Erick Aybar to leadoff the inning, Harvey strung together two consecutive outs and was a strike away from getting out of the inning unscathed. Instead, Ender Inciarte laced a 2-2 96-mph fastball into the right-center-field gap to tie the game at 1-1.
Five pitches later, it was another 96-mph fastball that Freddie Freeman drove to left-center to put the Braves ahead.
"A couple of balls they hit were over the heart of the plate," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "As we all know about pitching, it's about locating your stuff. If you make a mistake over the plate, hopefully they don't do damage, and they did."
In the fourth and fifth innings, it was Harvey's breaking pitches that allowed the Braves to extend their lead with RBI singles from A.J. Pierzynski and Nick Markakis.
Despite the setback, though, Collins does not believe there is any reason for anybody to worry, especially Harvey.
"[A start like this] shouldn't [affect him going forward]," Collins said. "We'll continue to make sure he stays positive because I don't think it should affect him -- he's been pitching too good."
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.