A Citi Field homecoming for Matt Harvey, where the Orioles pitcher starred for so many years for the New York Mets, featured plenty of warmth from the fan base and a hit parade from the hosts.
Harvey and the Orioles lost 7-1 on Wednesday to the Mets, completing a two-game sweep in Queens after a much closer 3-2 walk-off loss a night before.
“I wish things went differently,” Harvey said. “I wish the score was flip-flopped, but my job is to go out and keep runs off the board and obviously I didn’t do that, regardless of the situation. It was a rough one.”
After a clean first inning, Harvey ran into trouble early in the second. A double and a single to open the inning put two runners on, who both scored when Kevin Pillar tripled off the wall in left-center field. Pillar scored on a single by the next batter, José Peraza.
The Mets added a run in the third when Francisco Lindor singled, stole second and scored on a single by Dominic Smith. They chased Harvey in the fifth inning after a pair of singles and a walk. Both runners he left for reliever Shawn Armstrong came around to score, meaning Harvey allowed a season-high seven runs on eight hits in 4 ⅓ innings, raising his ERA to 4.81.
He struck out four, helping him get to 800 on his career, but Harvey is mostly trying to use his stuff to produce weak contact as opposed to missing bats at this stage. Often, it works. Opponents had a .283 batting average on balls in play in Harvey’s seven starts entering this one, but eight of 17 balls in play were hits Wednesday for a .471 average.
Based on the quality of contact, MLB’s Statcast data had just four of those balls as hard contact. But the Mets kept finding outfield grass, and Harvey’s return to Citi Field was a rough one for it.
“I thought he threw the ball [well] early in the game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He just got beat by some soft contact and good batting by the Mets.”
Said Harvey: “The last couple years have been kind of this way, so I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten used to it, but being able to battle through it and continue to stay in the attack mode, stay in the mindset of trying to limit damage. Obviously, I wasn’t able to do that today.”
He seemed to be able to detach the disappointment of the result from how special the moment was, though. He received ovations coming to the mound in the first inning and coming to the plate to bat, tipping his hat each time.
Harvey said his injuries and some off-field issues that tainted the end of his Mets career after the high point of a 2015 run to the World Series made him question what kind of reaction he’d get. He was glad for the positive one.
“There was a lot of excitement, a lot of memories,” Harvey said. “Obviously, there’s been so many ups and downs here with this ballpark and this organization that I didn’t know what to expect and what they gave me, what the fans gave me out there was pretty incredible. I was holding back tears. I’m not going to lie about that. It was pretty hard holding them back. It reminded me of a lot of the good memories and coming off the field with an ovation like that, it brought a lot back. It was very special to me, something I’ll never forget.”
Said Hyde: “I thought the ovation that the Mets crowd gave to him on the mound and when he went to hit was very cool. I’m sure he appreciated that. He acknowledged that both times. That was classy on their part. I’m sure he wishes that the results were different, but I think it was a big deal for him to pitch here.”
The Orioles (16-21) had another tepid day offensively, going hitless between a two-out double by Trey Mancini in the first inning and a pop-up single by Cedric Mullins to begin the sixth.
Freddy Galvis scored their only run after leading off the seventh with a walk, going to third on a Rio Ruiz single and scoring on a groundout by Chance Sisco.
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Mancini had the only multi-hit game for the Orioles, raising his batting average to .252.
“We just couldn’t get any rallies going,” Hyde said. “We’re just not swinging the bat very well.”
Orioles vaccinated for relaxed protocols
The Orioles announced Wednesday that 85% of their on-field personnel and those who interact with them are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, allowing them to relax health and safety protocols including mask wearing in the dugout, bullpen and weight room. It allows for more freedom of movement at restaurants and hotels on the road, among other things.
“We’re very excited to reach that number and today’s our day,” Hyde said. “We’re very proud as an organization. It just feels so good from top to bottom how a lot of people have put a lot of work into this and it’s a good day to be, May 12, our 85% day.”
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