With a second absolute thumping at the hands of his former club, former New York Mets star Matt Harvey has reached the part of his comeback attempt where he’s come all the way back down to earth.
Harvey allowed half the damage in a 14-1 Orioles loss Wednesday night at Camden Yards before an announced 9,584, cooling the team’s hot streak and completing a month bookended by bad starts against the Mets by the former All-Star.
“Unfortunately, I pitched like [expletive],” Harvey said.
The 32-year-old right-hander, who was an All-Star for the Mets in 2013 and helped them to the World Series in 2015, was warmly welcomed back to Citi Field on May 12 for his first start there since being released into the baseball wilderness in 2018 with a 3.60 ERA through seven starts this season.
He allowed seven runs in 4 ⅓ innings that day, 17 earned runs in 12 ⅓ innings over four starts since, then gave up seven runs in three innings Wednesday. His 7.41 ERA is the highest among those with at least 10 starts in all of baseball.
Just as happened to Bruce Zimmermann a night earlier, Harvey watched a one-out walk by Francisco Lindor come around to score on a home run by Pete Alonso in the first inning. His seven-pitch second inning was as good as it got, though. One run was in already when James McCann and Billy McKinney hit two-out, run-scoring singles to bring out pitching coach Chris Holt. Two pitches later, Kevin Pillar hit a three-run home run to left field. Harvey finished the inning, but that was it for him.
“I just thought Matt missed in the middle of the plate quite a bit,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Bad pitch to Alonso there early, a walk before that, and then a tough time there in that third inning.”
Harvey, who over the struggles of the past month has often said it’s been mechanical issues that he needed to work out, said the frustrating part about Wednesday was that he felt good and still got tagged.
“It’s been a couple years now of being really horse[expletive],” Harvey said. “It’s frustrating, the amount of work that I’m putting in between starts. Especially with the start tonight, I felt good, I had good stuff. Like I said, I missed spots.
“Those are the frustrating ones where you feel good and you feel like — I was throwing 95, 96 mph and got hit around. Those are the tough ones, the ones that I’ve been out of mechanics, there’s a reason for that and I guess an excuse for not pitching well. But for tonight, it was, I felt good. I just missed spots in situations where I can’t, and I did. It cost us the game.”
Taijuan Walker didn’t need that much of a cushion, pitching into the seventh without much resistance from an Orioles (22-39) offense that managed just six hits, a far cry from their recent offensive outbursts in winning five of their past six games entering Wednesday. Walker allowed just one run, striking out nine and walking one to lower his ERA to 2.07, one of the best marks in baseball.
Adam Plutko allowed a home run in his two innings of relief, and after scoreless frames from Dillon Tate and César Valdez, Rule 5 reliever Mac Sceroler made his return from the injured list due to a shoulder issue and allowed six runs on three home runs in two innings.
Great start and a great catch
Cedric Mullins provides seemingly a highlight a night for the Orioles these days, and got it out of the way early Wednesday. Four pitches into the game, Mullins ranged into the left-center field gap and dove to catch a drive by former Oriole Jonathan Villar, eliciting awe from his teammates and the partisan Mets crowd at Camden Yards.
According to MLB.com, similar batted balls have a 25% expected catch rate, making it Mullins’ best catch of the season.
Hyde said it was a “great catch,” and one that energized the team, even though they trailed 2-0 after that inning ended.
Mountcastle makes it happen again
With the game still within reach, the Orioles put together a first inning reminiscent of their scalding-hot June at the plate. Mullins led off with a single, went to second on a single by Trey Mancini and scored on a two-out, two-strike single by Ryan Mountcastle.
Mountcastle, the reigning American League Player of the Week, has an eight-game hitting streak and has driven in at least one run in each of those eight games, raising his OPS over 100 points in the process.
“He’s not going to win Player of the Week every week, but he is figuring out how to hit in the big leagues,” Hyde said before the game.
Rotation in flux
The Orioles’ rotation is in flux some without John Means (left shoulder strain), and Hyde said left-hander Keegan Akin will start Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The rest of the series’ starters have not been announced. Harvey, however, is not being pulled from the rotation, Hyde said.
Friday, 7:10 p.m.
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