Matt Harvey is a beast. Just ask the Reds.
Harvey fanned eight, didn’t allow a runner until he hit Ryan Ludwick leading off the fifth (Ludwick, channeling Reggie Sanders, glared death at him), and didn’t allow a hit until three batters later, when Scott Rolen hit a little roller that Justin Turner could only surround. He was superb for 7 2/3, leaning on his heavy fastball with late movement and supplementing it with his slider, curve and the occasional change — which is much, much better than watching him try to be a Rick Reed-type finesse guy. (I’m still baffled by why the Mets kept pushing him to throw so many change-ups in recent starts.) He chipped in a two-run double of his own — yes, Harvey can hit. (Though no, he probably can’t man a corner outfield spot. Sorry.) And if we can tiptoe into the realm of the intangible, I like the way he goes about his business on the mound — he gets the ball and is ready to go, acting as if the mound is his and he’ll dictate what happens on it, thank you very much. Contrast that with, say, Jon Niese wandering around looking put upon when things go wrong.
Oh, and the Mets hit too, from Ike Davis to Mike Baxter to Ruben Tejada to (stop operating heavy machinery) Jason Bay. The bullpen? Well, it was mixed. Bobby Parnell relieved Harvey with the Reds trying to get back into the game and froze Brandon Phillips with a beautiful hook at the knee, Frank Francisco was spectacularly awful in the ninth, but then Jon Rauch erased Wilson Valdez for the win. (Between Valdez and the despicable Miguel Cairo, who knew Cincinnati was the Valhalla for unmemorable, briefly tenured Met infielders?)
Any good Harvey start is going to feel like a preview of the Mets’ hoped-for future, but games like tonight’s are also something a lot simpler: They’re fun, which baseball is supposed to be. It was fun watching Harvey work and seeing if a very, very good Reds team (that’s minus Joey Votto!) could counter what he was doing. It was fun watching the Mets actually hit balls hard, seeing them land away from enemy fielders and then watching Mets touch home plate. It was fun watching Bobby Ojeda not be angry afterwards. It was fun knowing the Mets wouldn’t offer up some ridiculous tweet (“RECAP: Frank Francisco retires two in 9th before Cincy comeback”) that would make me want to set myself on fire on the hood of Dave Howard’s SUV. It was fun reporting for recap duty. It’ll be fun to read the morning reviews. Remember fun?
Fun is so much better than what the Mets have given us lately. Let’s have more of it.