Matt Harvey may have pitched only two innings but they were a huge two innings. Harvey, making his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2013, retired all six Detroit Tigers batters he faced in front of a sell-out crowd in Port St. Lucie, Florida on Friday.
Reportedly the atmosphere was one more like that of a playoff game than that of one in early spring. This was a moment that not only Harvey had been waiting for for the last year and a half, but the entire New York Mets’ team, executives, fans and just fans of the game of baseball had been waiting for.
As Harvey tossed his warm-up pitches the entire pitching staff stood behind him, and fans gathered close to the rail to catch a glimpse of the warm up. Harvey later said he barely even noticed they were there, accidentally throwing 10-15 extra warm up pitches, until each teammate gave him a fist bump prior to his entering the game as the team’s starter.
Harvey’s rookie season, way back in 2013, had gone so well that he was named the starter for the National League in the All-Star game, a game that took place at his home field in New York. He said that this moment was not unlike that one.
When I left the dugout and was running out to the outfield to warm up, I could hear the fans,” Harvey said. “That moment really reminded me of the All-Star Game [in 2013 at Citi Field] and the support that I was given there. That was really special. So that will be something I remember for a long time.”
Everyone had had to be extraordinarily patient for this moment to come. The Mets took absolutely no chances with their 25-year-old ace. Harvey was kept on an extrememly slow pace returning from surgery and he made no secret that he wasn’t happy about it. He just wanted to pitch. He wanted to pitch so badly he was hoping to comeback during the 2014 season, less than a year after undergoing the procedure.
The Mets held their ground and now everyone, Harvey included, is probably glad they did. When Harvey faced live batters for the first time a week ago everyone was thrilled. This, however, was a real game and the batters on Detroit were not just standing there like his Mets teammates had, they wanted to hit the ball.
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