The New York Mets went 8,109 games in the regular season without a no-hitter. That run ended after more than 51 seasons last June 1, when Johan Santana no-hit St. Louis 8-0.
New York sent out a hard-throwing phenom, Matt Harvey, on Saturday at Target Field, and it looked for most of the late afternoon that the Metropolitans’ second no-hitter would come 120 games after Johan got the first.
Harvey had two outs in the seventh and the Twins had produced nothing with the potential for a hit. Justin Morneau had struck out and hit into a double play, and now was trying Harvey’s outstanding assortment of pitches for the third time.
Morneau fouled off three pitches, took a ball and then laid off a high fastball. Harvey came with his hard slider and Morneau hit a drive down the right-field line. It kissed off the foul pole.
There went the no-hitter, although the betting from Saturday’s frozen witnesses to Harvey’s excellence would be that the Mets won’t have to wait another 8,000 games until the next one.
Harvey wound up working eight innings, allowing two hits and one run in the 4-2 victory. He’s now 3-0 with an 0.83 ERA. That’s two runs in 22 innings, with six hits, 25 strikeouts and six walks.
The Mets had Harvey in the big leagues for the last two months of 2012. The numbers were solid: 3-5, 2.73 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59⅓ innings. The 26 walks were a touch high.
“The time he spent with us last year was a great experience,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He knows he has good stuff — to get the best hitters in the game out.”
Harvey was the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft with the Mets. His agent was Scott Boras. That meant he waited until the last minute to sign and didn’t start his official pro career until 2011. He had 46 minor league starts before debuting with the Mets last July 26.
And now the 6-4, 230-pounder has the look of a National League version of Justin Verlander: a tall, strong righthander who cruises at 92, 93 mph, then reaches back for 97 (or more) when necessary.
Throw in the 90-plus slider, a changeup and a curve, and you had the feeling for over two hours that the Twins would be fortunate to manage a hit.
Harvey said he was conscious of the no-hitter by the fourth and fifth innings. He peeked at the scoreboard a couple of times to make sure he was right. He had a slight regret over the pitch selection on Morneau’s home run.
“It was a slider in; we had gone in there three or four times to him,” Harvey said. “We probably should’ve tried another fastball, or a changeup.”
Morneau’s blast stayed on the line. “I was blowing it foul,” Harvey said. “He hit it good. If it was going anywhere, it was going out.”
Brian Dozier had the second hit off Harvey, an eighth-inning single. That didn’t change his impression of Saturday’s opponent.
“He located all his pitches, all eight innings,” Dozier said. “You get a guy who does that, it’s tough. I knew he had been throwing the ball real well. Our mentality was to attack early, especially me.
“I faced him a lot in the minor leagues. He was one of their top guys in the minors, and he showed it today … One of the main things, [in the past] he didn’t have the slider that he threw today.”
LaTroy Hawkins, the ex-Twin, is now in the Mets bullpen. He looked across the visitors clubhouse at Harvey and said: “He’s a big-boy pitcher. He’s got a great career ahead of him.”
It was 35 degrees at game time. Harvey said only on a couple of curveballs was the cold a problem.
LaTroy wasn’t as kind in his assessment of outdoor baseball in Minneapolis during a cold April.
The Hawk said, “I played in the Dome. I liked the Dome. I’ll never say anything bad about the Dome.”