VIERA, Fla. -- Matt Harvey described himself as excited to get back on the mound at Space Coast Stadium after struggling at the ballpark last spring training. On March 25, 2012, Harvey surrendered three homers, including a mammoth shot to Jayson Werth, and was chased after one inning.
“I don’t know if it’s landed yet,” Harvey quipped Wednesday about Werth’s long ball.
This time, Harvey said he struggled early to channel the extra energy associated with a return visit, resulting in his front shoulder flying open during his delivery and pitches drifting up in the strike zone. Harvey issued a leadoff walk to Denard Span and surrendered a three-run homer to Bryce Harper before recording an out.
But Harvey retired 11 of final 12 batters he faced. He ultimately was charged with three runs (two earned) on three hits and one walk while striking out six in four innings. His Grapefruit League ERA drifted upward to 2.77.
The Mets eventually lost, 8-5.
Harper was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Harvey last season.
“He’s an All-Star. He’s Bryce Harper,” Harvey said. “Obviously you’ve got to lock in. I made a bad pitch to him, but I learned from it. It’s something I’ll remember going into the season for future at-bats.
“I struggled there in the first inning, obviously. I think I came out a little too excited and needed to tone that down a little bit. … I made one bad pitch and it cost me three runs.”
Said catcher Travis d’Arnaud: “I thought he threw extremely well. He just had that leadoff walk that led to that three-run inning, Other than that I thought he executed his pitches well. Shoot, I thought he had a good game.”
As for the ill-fated 2012 outing here late in spring training, Harvey already had been demoted to minor league camp by then, but was borrowed for the Grapefruit League game.
“After getting sent down to the minors and then coming back and pitching in a major league game, it was a little bit different situation -- something I wasn’t quite used to,” Harvey said. “I tried to take the ball today like a normal start. Unfortunately, the first inning got away, but that happens.”
MORE COWGILL: Collin Cowgill belted a solo homer in the seventh against Drew Storen to briefly give the Mets a 4-3 lead. “He’s played very, very well,” Terry Collins said. “He’s an aggressive guy. Energy is something that’s needed on our club. It’s pretty hard to keep him off right now.”
BOBBY SOCKED: Bobby Parnell surrendered four runs (three earned) in the bottom half of that frame and was charged with the loss. Parnell surrendered consecutive RBI singles to Tyler Moore, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. On Harper’s single, left fielder Lucas Duda misplayed the ball and it scooted by him, allowing Moore to score from first.
OOPS: The Mets committed three errors -- by third baseman Justin Turner (preceding Harper’s homer in the first), on a pickoff attempt by Harvey and by Duda.