Now in the spirit of following up some tough news about a great arm gone bad, there’s Matt Harvey who returned to his first in-game action since the 2013 regular season yesterday. The reviews were rave about his performance:
Harvey struck out three of the six Tigers he faced and he cracked the bats of two others. He was dominant. He comfortably threw his fastball 96 to 99 mph. His slider dived into the dirt, same as ever. Even his curveball, a reclamation project, was a knee-buckling filthy pitch. Nick Castellanos was the only Tigers hitter who saved even a little face against him. Castellanos should have received some kind of trophy for at least getting the ball out of the infield — though even that was just a lazy fly ball he lifted to right.
Harvey was so good when he blew away Tigers No. 4 hitter Jordan Lennerton on three straight pitches, it provoked an on-air laugh from former Mets pitcher Ron Darling, who was calling the game for SNY. Darling said poor Lennerton, who spent last year in Triple-A, was likely to get some good-natured kidding when he got back to the Detroit bench about forgetting to take the weighted doughnut off his bat before leaving the on-deck circle.
This is great to hear. It’s unfortunate that baseball had to exist at all without the rare talent of Matt Harvey. The early reports would seem to support that this guy is going to get back on track as a generational talent who defines his legacy with sparkling numbers on the back of his card.
And every fifth day, when you turn this guy on the television set; he’s going to be the same guy we came to remember. That’s good news for everyone except opposing hitters.
There is one pitch that will forever haunt you. It will happen during the 1988 NLCS with your team up 4-2. In the 9th inning, you’ll walk John Shelby on four pitches, and then face Mike Scioscia. The guy is not a home run hitter but you should respect him as a veteran with a lot of experience. Everyone in the stadium, including Scioscia, knows that you’re going to throw a fastball. With your first pitch, your instinct will be to try to throw it over the middle to get ahead on the count with a quick strike. What you should do is throw it low and away.
Bryce Harper is just a great bet to succeed any time he’s playing in New York. Tonight he hit what play by play guy Bob Carpenter called fittingly, a ‘Ruthian Clout’ into the upper deck in right field. It was one of three hits Harper collected in a Nationals win, and he also walked.
This long home run comes off a promising young arm in Zack Wheeler, who Harper was previously 1 for 11 against with six strikeouts. Another pretty good arm that Harper adds to his wall of big game pelts.
As the below graphic will show, Harper has really slaughtered the baseball at Citi Field. His 13th home run of the 2014 season was his sixth career home run in New York.
You look at Harper’s numbers in what hasn’t exactly been the breakout season everyone hoped for, and he’s had one of the best stretches of his career quietly since August 1st (.284, 10 HR, 19 RBI).
Thus far in his young career, he has homered against the Mets more than any other team. He has half his home run total this season against New York. Dillon Gee kept throwing balls right down the pipe, and Harper connected with one of his longest home runs of the year.
It was a picture perfect night for Washington, as they won the game 4-1 with Stephen Strasburg throwing seven great innings.
Also, we won a Home Run Derby on MLB ’14 The Show with Harper tonight. Here’s a shot of that:
In the Nationals 7-1 victory on Tuesday evening, Bryce Harper hit another ball out to left field. It was the fourth in his career at Citi Field. It should be no secret that he absolutely kills the Mets.
And when you scroll back through Harper’s career homers, he’s hit a fair number of home runs to straight away left field. Of all the parts of Harper’s game that you wish maybe were a little different, the one thing the scouts have been right about is his auspicious power to all fields. He’s just as likely to homer the other way as he is to any part of the park.
Harper now has five home runs on the season and 47 in his career.
The Nationals locked up in a 13-inning game with the Mets yesterday afternoon in DC. While the baseball world had it’s eyes on Javier Baez, the game of baseball and it’s irony reared pointed the finger at those who had beeen wondering if Harper had lost it.
And to be honest – no one will believe this – I knew Bryce Harper was hitting a walk-off home run to win this game. I had the game on the radio and actually thought it was going to come in the 11th off Buddy Carlyle. He singled off him. Two innings later, I just shook my head when my premonition came to life. This was probably Harper’s best swing of the season, all things considered. It was an outside fastball that caught too much of the plate, and hopefully this stinging contact allowed him to realize that he has the natural power to hit balls out the other way. Harper’s power to all fields is probably what we’ve remained the most impressed about through his whole career, even with his struggles. Lately, teams have built a book on him that has seen them go away on the outer half of the plate with hard stuff to get him out.
This is the type of swing that could get Harper on a tear for the rest of the season.
Cashen passed away today at age 88. If it were not for his vision, we would have never known of Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Gary Carter, Ron Darling, Jesse Orosco, Roger McDowell, Keith Hernandez, Ray Knight and all the various other guys who made that team so special.
The Mets of the mid-to-late 80’s didn’t win the three or four titles that many thought they would, but when Cashen arrived in 1980 the Mets were the laughingstock of baseball. By the time he left, they were a feared team that no other franchise wanted to cross in a postseason series.
Yasiel Puig’s tour of destruction has bled into the state of New York, namely; Queens.
Last night, he hit a rocket home run off some poor rookie with a last name that is spelled weird. He bat flipped the shit out of him and then rounded the bases. It was his 10th home run of the young season.
The numbers are piling up rather quickly for the Cuban phenom. He’s doing something basically on a nightly basis that just makes you saw ‘OMG’. His home run last night could have been considered the difference, the Dodgers hung on to a 4-3 win.
As I write this, Charlie Steiner just called him ‘the biggest star in baseball’ and added ‘you simply can’t take your eyes off him’. Pretty accurate.
And arriving on-time was this piece from the New York Times; talking about Puig entertaining his fans and detractors alike. And just wait until you see the catch he made in right field tonight. Unbelievable ballplayer.
Another ballgame, another heartbreaker one run loss for the Reds. Another Jay Bruce home run in a losing effort.
Mike Leake provided a very Leakian effort – he went 6 and 2/3 striking out three and walking three, but gave up two two-run bombs to Lucas Duda which was all the Mets needed to thwart the Reds.
Bruce’s home run was the 166th of his career, and his second of the season. It came off lefty John Lannan and put the Reds within a run at 4-3. He drove in all three Reds runs while also adding an RBI single earlier in the ballgame.
The story of the game for me was little Jenrry Mejia who went six innings while striking out eight for the Mets in earning the win. he walked five batters but had the stuff to get out of several jams with the strikeout; he might be a guy to watch as the season goes on because he has exceptional stuff with a plus fastball to go with.
Of course, it was gut wrenching to watch Jose Valverde work himself into trouble in the ninth inning only to get out of it by Joey Votto having a poor at bat and popping out, then dropping a splitty in to Jay Bruce to get the final out of the game and lock down the save.
Matt Harvey has a partially-torn UCL which always ends the same way. Young pitcher goes under the knife and begins the long road back to his once dominating state. It’s hard to believe as I’m typing this, as Harvey was one of the most dominating presences on the mound that I’ve seen in a number of years – and it seemed that virtually nothing could get in his way of a decade’s worth of dominance.
This news comes nearly three years to the date of when the Washington Nationals made a similar announcement about Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has came back strong, albeit not quite as dominant as he was prior to the surgery.
Shortly after the news broke, Harvey said “I’m going to do everything I can to avoid surgery”. The smart call would probably be to get under the knife as soon as possible, and pad Dr. James Andrews bank account as quickly as the Mets can wire the money. The longer Harvey waits to have the procedure the further you drag out the 12 to 18 month timeline that will be needed to get Harvey back and working to full strength.
In a very related note, the New York Mets are fucked. They’re up there in Queens with that big boring ballpark and a desolate roster and Terry Collins as their manager. Finally when there was light shown at the end of the tunnel, they’ve once again been left out in the cold with news that no organization deserves. I actually feel bad for a bunch of New Yorkers tonight, except this guy. He deserved it.
There’s nothing better than a Bryce Harper home run on FOX Saturday afternoon baseball. Those two events converged this afternoon, when Bryce Harper took Dylan Gee out to dead center at Nats Park. The Nationals went on to win the game 4-1.
We really want to see the Nationals get hot – baseball would be a more interesting place if they would – and they might be trying. The Nationals had walk-off wins on Thursday and Friday in now winning three of their last four. This can still happen but the Nationals have no more room for error. It’s time to ride, every night; starting right now.
And it brings up a further point: Bryce Harper absolutely murders the Mets. Harper has six home runs against New York, the most against any team in baseball (tied with also six against Miami).
You have to be starting to get the feeling that the Pittsburgh Pirates are just having one of those special, memorable summers. Something just feels different. They’re gutting out wins – night after night – with a bunch of blue collar players and patchwork pieces.
Tonight on FOX Saturday Night Baseball was no different. The Pirates beat the Mets 4-2 at PNC Park, largely behind a big night from their star Andrew McCutchen. Cutch has had a solid, but short of spectacular first half. He’s hitting .300, but his power numbers are down. If the Pirates get anything close to an MVP-caliber second half from the guy, they’re going to the playoffs.
Here’s his 10th home run of the season which tied the game tonight for the Buccos. It was a shot, displaying that ‘power to all fields’ that scouts said McCutchen would develop:
An inning later, McCutchen would single in the go-ahead run. It would stand up. Jason Grilli locked down his 29th save of the season with a scoreless ninth.
Tonight my wife asked me if I had to bet money on it, who did I see going to the World Series. The simple answer would have been ‘I wouldn’t’ and right now, I definitely have no idea. But as I thought about it, I told her the Detroit Tigers and after a short amount of consideration, why not the damn Pittsburgh Pirates? They’re pretty sound in all facets of the game and I think they’re going to be even better in the second half.
As we approach the All-Star break, count me as one who thinks the Pirates have a legitimate shot at getting to the World Series this year. The Reds are fading, the Nationals are probably done, I don’t buy the Braves, the Dodgers still have a ways to go, and I think the Pirates just might have enough to take down the Cardinals in a long NLCS series. Call me crazy if you want. These guys have something going.
Bobby Parnell has a decent chance to make the All-Star game this year. Not racking up the saves on a bad team but pitching well. He actually had a chance tonight and couldn’t do it. He came in with a standard one run lead to protect. He got no people out. He also looks a bit awkward as he starts to go cover first. Bad news Bobby – that grounder found the hole and scored the game tying run. Details here:
Double, wild pitch, single, double, walk, game over. Come back strong Bobby, we’re rooting for you.
Note: I know he recorded an out technically but since it was the game winning sacrifice, I’m going to go ahead and not count it this time.
Bruce extended his hitting streak to 11 games with his two hits last night. Over his last 15 games (beginning May 1st), here are his numbers:
.338, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .352 On base %, .721 slugging, nine doubles and a triple for good measure.
The guy loves to hit in May.
The Reds also welcomed back Johnny Cueto from injury. The control wasn’t really there – he walked an unusual four hitters – but I saw him hit as high as 97 MPH on the radar gun. He gave the Reds five solid innings with his only mistake being the three run homer he allowed to Marlon Byrd.
Chapman came on in the ninth, destroyed two hitters; and avenged his blown save that was caused by danish pastries. With one more win the Reds will move to 10 games over .500, something any franchise in the game would sign up for right now. They really are playing solid ball night after night despite having some injuries to key members of their squad.