TAMPA — Matt Harvey’s resurgent spring took a detour Saturday, with the Yankees’ two marquee players providing much of the angst.
Aaron Judge reached base three times against the Mets righthander, and Giancarlo Stanton crushed a 94 mph fastball, planting it behind the right-center fence at Steinbrenner Field, completing Harvey’s third start of the Grapefruit League season.
Harvey’s outing wasn’t as bad as the numbers suggest: He allowed five earned runs allowed on six hits and one walk over 4 ²/₃ innings. But this also wasn’t the pitcher who had looked considerably sharper in his previous two appearances, against the Braves and Tigers.
“There were a lot of good pitches, there were a lot of bad pitches, but it’s still March 10,” Harvey said on a day the Mets lost 10-3 to the Yankees. “It was my third start, and a lineup like that you really have to be pretty fine. I think it’s tough to say March 10 you are really going to be as fine as you want, but overall mechanically it was great and everything feels awesome, so I am real excited about that.”
Harvey, who threw 61 pitches, had perfect innings in the second and fourth, against the bottom of the Yankees’ lineup, but the top of the order provided resistance.
In the third inning, Judge hammered a double to left field that led to a run. In the fifth, Judge walked before Stanton — who remained alive after an 0-2 pitch that appeared to catch the plate was called a ball — blasted a no-doubter to right-center for his first homer in a Yankees uniform.
“I came in [the clubhouse] and said, ‘One too many fastballs’ and that one obviously ran back over the middle of the plate,” Harvey said. “A hitter like that, you can’t do that, but overall from start to finish I felt like I did a good job with my mechanics and the ball was coming out real good.”
Harvey missed 2 ¹/₂ months last season rehabbing a stress injury to his right scapula and was a disaster upon his return, pitching to an 11.28 ERA in his final six appearances. He previously missed the second half of the 2016 season after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
To this point, the Mets are encouraged by how Harvey has looked physically this spring. Included has been a fastball consistently registering 93-95 mph.
“He’s looked really good,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He’s throwing the ball where he wants to. He has good stuff, good life on his fastball. He’s staying strong through his pitch count.”
Callaway has asked his pitchers to rely on their fastballs during spring training to build consistency with that pitch. Secondary stuff will come later, as the Mets move closer to Opening Day. The manager also hasn’t provided his pitchers scouting reports on hitters as he would during the regular season.
“Once we layer on some information — [Harvey] probably threw some pitches he wouldn’t throw in the regular season, and that maybe cost him some runs that we are not too worried about,” Callaway said. “But I thought he looked really good. The velo was there. The last batter of the game, he was throwing 95, that was encouraging. Pitching into the fifth, very few pitches per inning.”
Harvey surrendered two runs in the first inning, but wasn’t hit hard. After Brett Gardner led off with a single, Judge’s grounder found a hole through the left side and Brandon Drury reached on an infield hit. Stanton also was drilled in the forearm by a pitch in the inning.
“The inning could have gotten a lot worse than it did,” Harvey said. “I think getting four or five ground balls, most of the time you are going to get a double play and get out of the inning hopefully with one run or no runs, but it could have gotten a lot worse and really spiraled out of control, but to come out of that with two runs and battling pretty good until the fifth was definitely a positive.”
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