May 14

Latest Loss May Be Best Thing To Happen To Mets’ Harvey

Last night may be the best thing to happen to Matt Harvey and the Mets. In defeat, he showed us a humility we haven’t often seen from him, which can be the first step up from rock bottom.

Sometime between Rockies’ hits in the fifth inning I flashed to the summer of 2013 when Harvey first flirted with stardom. Do you remember the video piece Harvey did on the Jimmy Fallon show when he roamed the streets of New York asking people their thoughts of Matt Harvey?

HARVEY: All smiles in 2013. (USA Today)

HARVEY: All smiles in 2013. (USA Today)

To listen to the answers, and Harvey’s response – both verbally and his body language – was priceless. Harvey was talking to his fan base about himself and they didn’t recognize him. He was funny and showed real humility.

It made us like him for more than what he did on the mound because he seemed
approachable.

However, since then Harvey has been sidetracked by injury, off-the-field issues and media clashes. Both Harvey and those who followed him ventured into the dark night of judgment. Unlike that day in Central Park when he was anonymous, Harvey lived with a target on his back and hasn’t responded well.

Neither has anybody else.

His body language spoke loudly last night; louder than the cheers that greeted him at the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field when he seemingly held the world in his hand like the baseball he threw which such force and artistry.

Gone last night was the cockiness and arrogance which made people root against him. Also gone was the confidence that made him stare down a hitter then climb the ladder for another strikeout.

His head was down when he handed the ball to manager Terry Collins and slumped off the mound. The cameras caught him with his head bowed in the dugout talking to himself. He wasn’t getting any answers and it was a very human moment from a man Mets fans and media insist on labeling a superhero.

“A great statement I heard the other day is there’s two kinds of players in this league: Ones who have been humbled and ones who will be,” Collins told reporters. “When it’s your turn, it gets tough to take sometimes, because you have got to learn how to adjust from it and how to bounce back from it.”

However, before he can bounce back from a problem it must be identified.

Mechanics? Perhaps. Injuries or health? He says no. Is he feeling the pressure to perform after Game 5? Could be, but he’s repeatedly expressed no regrets in how he handled that night.

Most recently, is he trying to pitch up to the expectations of the contract he’ll seek when he becomes a free agent? Maybe, but it’s something I can’t see him admitting because after all, that’s something few players admit.

What then?

To his credit, and I really liked his answer, he refused to blame the altitude of Coors Field, a place he’s never pitched before.

His answer was a polite, yet forceful, “No, it’s me.”

Humility defined.

“I’m just not feeling comfortable throwing a baseball right now, so it’s frustrating,” Harvey told reporters. “Something I have obviously done my whole life is gone on a mound and thrown a baseball, and right now it’s not an easy task.

“Right now it’s just not feeling great out there — you start overthinking everything. That’s kind of the way it feels every pitch, and hopefully you get past that.”

Harvey cast no blame, although catcher Kevin Plawecki might have given him an out by saying his pitch recommendations might have been predictable. Not many pitchers win games with two runs, but he didn’t point fingers at the offense.

Instead, Harvey spoke of square one.

“It’s taking a lot longer than expected,” said Harvey, who must remember some pitchers hit the wall after Tommy John surgery in the second year back. “You can’t give up. You’ve just got to keep going. It’s start-to-start for me right now.

“I don’t look at it as ups and downs. It’s trying to continue figuring stuff out. … It’s not easy, but there’s another day tomorrow. And it’s a long season. There’s a lot of hope in that regard and drive toward figuring it out.”

I was glad to see Harvey get ripped because it might be the first step toward him getting to where he wants to be.

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May 13

May 13, Mets’ Lineup At Rockies

Matt Harvey is coming off his best start of the season and will attempt to start the Mets on another winning streak tonight in Denver against the Rockies.

Tonight will be Harvey’s first career start at Coors Field. You might recall he was scratched from last year’s start by Logan Verrett. The Mets enter with an 11-game winning streak against the Rockies.

Here’s the Mets batting order:

Curtis Granderson, RF

David Wright, 3B

Michael Conforto, LF

Yoenis Cespedes, CF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Neil Walker, 2B

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS

Kevin Plawecki, C

Harvey, RP

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May 13

Mets Wrap: Kershaw Dominates

KERSHAW: The best. (AP)

KERSHAW: The best. (AP)

The future is promising for the Mets’ core of young arms. If any of them can approach what the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw has done, they also can be called special.

Kershaw, making his 250th career start, struck out 13 Mets and gave up just three hits in Thursday night’s 5-0 blanking of the Mets.

Kershaw, now 5-1, has posted double-digit strikeouts in his last five starts. Just as important as strikeouts, if not even more vital, is he’s only walked four hitters all season.

“Walking guys is how you get in trouble,” Kershaw told reporters. “I’d rather string hits together and make them swing the bats to beat me. That’s always my mentality.

“`Fortunately, I feel like my mechanics have felt pretty solid the whole season and I’m able to repeat pitches pretty consistently.”

After watching Kershaw, one could only hope Matt Harvey – Friday’s starter in Colorado – was taking notes.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #34   Record: 21-13   Streak: L 1

Standings: Tied First, NL East

Runs: 137     Average per game: 4.3    Times scoring 3 runs or less: 14

SUMMARY:  Kershaw struck out 13 and gave up three hits, and the Dodgers scored five runs in the first two innings and coasted from there. The Mets never had as many as two runners on base in any inning.

KEY MOMENT:  For all practical purposes, the game was over with Yasmani Grandal’s three-run homer in the first.

THUMBS UP:  Two hits by Asdrubal Cabrera and a double by Curtis Granderson accounted for the offense. … Three shutout innings with three strikeouts by Sean Gilmartin.

THUMBS DOWN:  Thirteen strikeouts. … Bartolo Colon gave up five runs in five innings. … Chase Utley homered.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Wilmer Flores (hamstring) was placed on the disabled list. … Utley is 10-for-20 with a homer lifetime against Colon.

QUOTEBOOK:  “He never gives in. He doesn’t have to stay in the zone to get you out. He’s so dominant.’’ – Mets manager Terry Collins on Kershaw.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4: Times Mets have been shutout this year.

NEXT FOR METS: Harvey starts Friday at Colorado.

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May 08

Mets Wrap: Colon Hits, Pitches Team To Win

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #29    May 7: at San Diego    Score: Mets 6, Padres 3

Record: 18-11  Streak: W 1

Standings: Second, NL East .5 GB Nationals  Playoffs Today: First WC vs. Pittsburgh

Runs: 129  Average: 4.5  Times scoring 3 runs or less: 12

ANALYSIS: When you watch enough baseball, eventually you’ll say to yourself, “Now, I’ve seen everything.’’ After Bartolo Colon’s first career homer, maybe we have.

SUMMARY: The Mets crushed four more homers, from Yoenis Cespedes and Colon in the first two innings, and David Wright and Michael Conforto going back-to-back in the ninth. 

KEY MOMENT: How can it be anything but Colon’s drive? It proved to be the margin of difference until the ninth-inning padding.

THUMBS UP: Asdrubal Cabrera made a great catch of a foul ball near the stands, and acknowledged a young fan that tried to congratulate him. I love that stuff. … Cespedes hit a two-run homer in the first. … Three walks, a single and homer from Wright. … Conforto broke a 1-for-17 slide with his homer. … Kevin Plawecki hit two doubles.

THUMBS DOWN: Colon homers. How can there be any negative?

EXTRA INNINGS:  The cooled-off Conforto and Neil Walker were in their customary third-and-sixth slots in the batting order. … Walker is on a 0-for-18 slide. … Travis d’Arnaud‘s shoulder still hurts and his time on the DL will be extended.

QUOTEBOOK:  “You’re so happy for him. He’s such a pro. … It was really cool to see it happen.’’ – Collins on Colon’s homer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6: Time Mets have hit back-to-back homers this year.

NEXT FOR METS: Matt Harvey starts Sunday.

May 07

Colon One Of A Kind

Bartolo Colon swings hard, so you figured if he ever caught a pitch just right it might go out. Well, it finally happened in the second inning Saturday night when Colon, 17 days shy of his 43rd birthday, connected against James Shields in the 226th at-bat of his career.

This wasn’t a “run for the roses,’’ as much as it was a 31-second jog around the bases, long enough for the Mets to vacate the bench, fans back home to text their friends with a “you’ll never believe what just happened,” message, and researchers to discover he became the oldest player to hit his first career homer.

Colon’s blast – and he did crush it – was one of four the Mets hit on the night. Yoenis Cespedes hit the first in the first inning, and David Wright and Michael Conforto went back-to-back in the ninth as the Mets regained their power stroke to beat the Padres, 6-3, and Colon won the 221st game of his splendid career.

COLON: One of a kind. (GETTY)

COLON: One of a kind. (GETTY)

Incidentally, the Mets also have the oldest player ever to hit a homer in Julio Franco at 47.

This is Colon’s third year with the Mets. He was originally signed to pick up the innings void when Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery. Colon won 15 and 14 games, respectively, in his first two years and worked over 190 innings each time.

Colon won over the hearts of Mets’ fans, not to mention his teammates, with his work ethic and outwardly unashamed signs of enjoying himself on the field. Colon also won everybody’s respect last year when he volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen during the playoffs.

Colon’s behind-the-back flip to first base last year in MIami was a sense of comic relief, but Saturday’s homer came at a time when the struggling Mets’ offense most needed a jolt.

However, the Mets didn’t get Colon to rake. They got him to pitch, and once again he came up with a quality outing, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings with five strikeouts. It marked the fourth time in six starts this year Colon (3-1) has gone at least six innings, and the 50th time in 68 starts with the Mets he’s gone that far.

Those, however, are numbers. He means far more than stats to this franchise. To watch his teammates mob him in the dugout, to hear how they love to tease him and enjoy his company, is a reflection how much they like and admire him. That’s a sign of respect not many players get to enjoy.

Colon has been a joy to watch during his short time here. He’ll go down as one of the most beloved Mets.