We were promised a pitching duel between Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg on Friday night, and that’s just what we got. And when it was over Harvey was the clear winner, as the Mets beat the Nationals 7-1.
Harvey set the tone with the very first batter, striking out Denard Span on three pitches — two fastball in the upper 90s sandwiched around a devastating curveball that Ron Darling called the best curve he’s every seen Harvey throw.
Strasburg didn’t fare as well in his first inning. Jordany Valdespin reached on an error by shortstop Ian Desmond. On a hit and run Daniel Murphy singled, leaving runners on first and third. Strasburg then uncorked a wild pitch to score Valdespin and move Murphy to second. David Wright flew out to right and an aggressive Murphy tagged up and took third. He scored on a John Buck single as the Mets took a 2-0 lead.
Harvey didn’t allow a hit until the third inning, when Strasburg, oddly enough, doubled to right. Harvey was able to strand him there.
Harvey finally let up another hit in the sixth — Span avenged his game-opening strikeout with a leadoff single. He was erased on a double play.
After striking out meekly against Strasburg and hearing boos from the Citi Field crowd earlier in the game, Ike Davis led off the sixth with a long opposite field home run to left to extend the Mets lead to 3-0. Later in the inning Lucas Duda followed suit with a solo shot of his own to make it 4-0.
Strasburg lasted six innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits. He did not have his best stuff, walking two and striking out six Mets.
Harvey kept goin. into the seventh, where he ran into trouble. He walked Adam LaRoche to lead off the inning. Desmond singled to put runners on first and second. Chad Tracy singled to score LaRoche to make it 4-1. Steve Lombardozzi grounded a possible double play ball to Daniel Murphy. He backhanded it to Ruben Tejada, poorly, pulling Tejada off the base. Murphy was charged with an error to load the bases with no outs. That’s when Matt Harvey bore down and went to work. He struck out Kurt Suzuki for the first out. Pinch hitter Roger Bernadina popped out to Buck. Span grounded out to Murphy to end the inning.
That was all for Harvey. He went seven innings, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out seven Nats and walked three.
David Wright led off the eighth with a triple and Davis followed with his second home run of the night, into the Pepsi Porch to give the Mets a 6-1 lead. Not to be outdone, Duda also hit his second homer of the night, to dead center as the Mets put the game away, 7-1. Good to see those guys hitting home runs.
But of course the story was Harvey. He is now 4-0 with a 0.93 ERA on the season. He has allowed all of 10 hits in his four starts. Matt Harvey has arrived.