NEW YORK -- Terry Collins pulled Matt Harvey aside after the right-hander’s dominating performance Thursday nonetheless ended in his first loss of the season.
The manager told Harvey what the ace undoubtedly already knows: Don’t let what you cannot control frustrate you.
Or, translated: The offense stinks. It’s not your fault. So don’t try to do too much.
New York Mets
In Harvey’s six career losses, the Mets have scored a total of three runs with him on the mound and seven runs overall in those games.
“I thought today was more important than the other days,” Collins said about delivering the message to Harvey, who limited the St. Louis Cardinals to one run in seven innings in what became a 2-1 loss.
“This guy is a different animal. He’s very, very aware of what he needs to do and what major league pitchers have to do. They can’t worry about lack of offense or [teammates] not making plays. They’ve got to go do their jobs. He’s done that, but when you’re pitching as well as he has and are just unable to win some games, it can be a little frustrating, especially for a young guy who is trying to make an impact in this league.”
In typical fashion, Harvey pointed the finger at himself. If Adam Wainwright tossed seven scoreless innings, Harvey said, he needed to match that performance.
“You guys know me. I don’t like to lose,” Harvey said. “Today I needed to go out and put up zeroes and I wasn’t able to do that. If I go seven with seven zeroes then we’re still playing the ballgame and have a better chance of winning. Obviously, I’m not happy about losing. I don’t like losing even if I don’t pitch.”
Harvey has one win since moving to 4-0 on April 19. He is 1-1 with eight no-decisions in his past 10 starts.
“It’s pitching. It’s going to happen,” Harvey said.
Said Wainwright: “He’s got great stuff. He’s throwing close to 100 mph, but he’s got four great pitches, it seems like. He’s got a good slider. He’s got a good changeup. He’s got a good curveball. Usually, when you see a guy throwing that hard, he doesn’t have the pitchability that he has. He’s doing a great job pitching, not just throwing."
David Wright, like Collins, chatted with Harvey to try to keep him from growing frustrated.
“I’ve told him: ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing,’ because he very easily could have 10 or 11 wins right now with the way he’s throwing,” Wright said. “I’m sure he’s frustrated. ... You could just tell he wants to win so bad.
“But the last thing you want him doing is going out there trying even harder, because sometimes -- as I’ve mentioned before -- that can be somewhat counterproductive when instead of throwing 97 you’re trying to throw 100. He just needs to keep continuing what he’s been doing all year. He’s been as dominant as anybody in baseball. Unfortunately, the win-loss record doesn’t reflect that because of our offensive struggles.”
Collins also explained to Harvey pulling him at 97 pitches after seven dominant innings. Trailing 1-0, the Mets had two runners on base and two outs in the seventh, so Collins inserted Justin Turner as a pinch-hitter. Collins said Harvey would have batted had the Mets already tied the ballgame.
Collins said he was prepared to let Harvey throw no more than 110 pitches -- so there was not much rope left anyway had Harvey continued. The cap was placed there because Harvey had back stiffness during his last start.
Harvey said his back, and the left foot that took a second-inning liner off the bat of Yadier Molina on Thursday, both were fine.
“I’m all good,” Harvey said. “All healthy.”
Asked if the lack of run support and team’s losing were wearing on him, Harvey said: “No, no. I take the ball every time just the same. I can’t control what the offense is doing. I can only go out there and I can pitch and try to put up as many zeroes as I can. There is no outside distractions. I have to stay focused on my job at hand. That’s going out and pitching every fifth day and trying to give up no runs.
“The wins and losses don’t mean anything to me personally. It’s a matter of the team winning. Today I didn’t do my job and put up zeroes, and we got the loss.”