Start vs. Detroit 'big step forward' for Harvey

2013 All-Star impresses with fastball, pitches into fifth inning

Start vs. Detroit 'big step forward' for Harvey

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Matt Harvey said he took a "big step forward" Monday by getting through the fourth inning of his fourth Grapefruit League start.

Harvey, who is recovering from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits in the Mets' 5-1 loss to the Tigers. He struck out four and threw 74 pitches (53 strikes).

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After giving up a solo home run to Tigers catcher James McCann in the second inning, Harvey began to show some of the form that made him the starter of the 2013 All-Star Game. He retired eight of the next nine batters to get through the fourth inning.

"I made a bad pitch [to McCann]," Harvey said. "[It was] one of those things where you throw a changeup and wish you had it back the minute it leaves your hand."

Harvey's best sequence came during McCann's second at-bat in the fourth inning, when he hit 95, 96 and 95 mph on the radar before striking the catcher out with a slider to end the inning.

"A guy hits a home run off of you, and you always want to get him out the next time," Harvey added.

Harvey ran into trouble in the fifth, when he gave up back-to-back singles to Dominic Ficociello and Andrew Romine to open the inning. After Anthony Gose sacrificed both men into scoring position, Harvey gave up a two-run single to Brendan Ryan on his final pitch of the game.

"I kind of looked up and realized how many pitches I had, and it's been a long time since I've gone into the fifth inning," Harvey said. "Overall I'm excited, and I made a lot of good pitches; unfortunately, in the last inning I didn't."

Catcher Kevin Plawecki said that Harvey continues to show progress as the regular season gets closer.

"Other than that last inning, I thought he hit his locations good," Plawecki said. "[The fastball] was coming in real good, but more importantly, his location was what [he] wanted to see. That's ultimately what it's about -- you can throw as hard as you want, but if you aren't spotting anything, it really doesn't matter."

Harvey said he will have two more starts in the spring, and his focus will continue to be on building up his arm strength and working on getting consistent with his delivery and mechanics.

"It's just a matter of being out there more," Harvey said. "What happened in the fifth inning, I don't want to have happen during the regular season, so building up the arm strength to that point. Obviously, the first three starts didn't go as planned, but this start was a big step forward."

Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Mets on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.