Guess this is what Major League Baseball was looking for in speeding up the pace of play as the Mets (2-1) beat the Braves, 6-2, in a tidy 2 hours and 28 minutes. Matt Harvey returned to the mound in a solid outing, giving up just three hits in 6 and 2/3 innings. Wilmer Flores hit a 2-run home run and Travis d’Arnaud drove in two with a double, as the Mets took two out of three from the Braves to open the season.
Harvey, returning from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery and making his first start since 4th of July last season, was cruising along all night, except when Matt Kemp was at bat. Kemp, the former Dodger who had a career high three doubles last night, hit two solo home runs off Harvey. Ender Inciarte had the only other hit off The Dark Knight and his 77 pitches, an infield single in the third.
After breezing through the batting order the first time on just 20 pitches in the first three innings, most Mets fans (and the Mets coaching staff) could breathe again as Harvey passed his first test of the season. Now we will need to see how he bounces back in his next start.
Kemp went deep (very deep) to lead off the fifth, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead, the Mets answered in their half when d’Arnaud doubled to deep left-center scoring both Neil Walker and Jay Bruce to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. D’Arnaud had just 15 RBI in 241 AB’s last year.
Braves pitcher Jamie Garcia (L, 0-1), was making his Atlanta debut after signing as a free agent, spending his career in St. Louis. He was charged with four of the six Mets runs
Mets added on two more in the sixth when Flores (HR, 1) went deep following a walk to Yoenis Cespedes to give Harvey some breathing room at 4-1, but there was that guy Kemp again in the seventh, launching his second home run and cutting the Mets lead in half to 4-2. That would end Harvey’s night.
In the seventh, Mets tacked on two more and put the game away.
The biggest question marks that the Mets vaunted starting pitching staff had at the start of the spring was how they would respond after most of them didn’t finish the season and those that did have varying injuries that were treated in the off-season. Syndergaard pitched six shutout innings on Opening Day, Jacob deGrom pitched six shutout innings yesterday and now Harvey showed arm strength (throwing mostly in the low 90’s). One more to go, Zach Wheeler, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since September 25th of 2014.
Wheeler takes the hill on Friday against the Marlins (1-2) against Wei-Yin Chen, the third straight lefty to start against the Mets.
POSITIVES: Mets had 8 hits including two from Neil Walker … Jose Reyes got hit first hit of the season … Cespedes, d’Arnaud and Walker all hit doubles … Fernando Salas has pitched in all three games of the young season, notching three shutout innings and 5K … Jerry Bevins, Addison Reed and Salas have combined for six shutout innings and 9K … Mets finally shut down Braves Brandon Phillips in a home game. Phillips got a hit last night in the 11th inning, giving him a hit in 35 straight games as a visiting player against the Mets. Who knew they kept track of those things? … What are the chances that both starting pitchers had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and needed surgery (Harvey in 2016 and Garcia in 2014)? … Flores hit .340 against lefties last year and hit 11 HR in just 100 AB’s … Mets were 77-40 last year when they hit a home run …
NEGATIVES: Reyes (1-13) is hitting .077 and the middle of the order – Cespedes, Flores and Curtis Granderson – are hitting just .167 … Mets were last team in the majors to have a hit from their leadoff batter (Reyes).
Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.