Matt Harvey knew of one way to quiet all the talk about his off-field activities being a distraction: dominate on the mound.
The young ace did just that Sunday, striking out 10 in seven overpowering innings to lead the New York Mets past the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0.
The 24-year-old Harvey has embraced his fame in his first full major league season, dating a Russian supermodel, appearing in a sketch on ”Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” that poked fun at his sudden popularity, and posing nude in a sports magazine. He also told another publication that Derek Jeter was the player he wants to ”model” his dating life after. Much of it drew criticism from the New York media.
”I read the articles and obviously I was embarrassed by them. The way I was portrayed is not who I am and not the person who I am,” Harvey said. ”I’ll deal with it on the field and fortunately I was able to do it today.”
Said Mets captain David Wright: ”If this is the most he’s going to have to deal with in his career, it’s going to be smooth sailing.”
Wright and Marlon Byrd made Harvey’s day a bit easier, connecting in the first for the team’s first back-to-back homers this season.
”It was awesome,” Harvey said. ”It made my job of going out there and throwing zeros even more fun.”
Byrd followed Wright’s homer off the dark metal railing atop the new left-field wall with a no-doubter into the second deck against Cliff Lee (10-4).
Wright’s homer was upheld by a video review. Juan Lagares also needed replay to confirm his three-run drive in the fourth that hit the same metal fence in left field as Wright’s did. His shot gave New York a 5-0 lead against the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Lagares made a running catch in center field with Delmon Young on third base in the seventh to help preserve the shutout.
The Mets snapped their seven-game skid against the Phillies at Citi Field with a 5-4 victory Saturday, and the win Sunday left Philadelphia below .500 at 49-50.
”You have to keep thinking that maybe one of these days you will stay up,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
In his first outing since starting the All-Star game on his home mound, Harvey (8-2) hit a batter with a pitch in the first inning – just as he did Tuesday night when he nailed Yankees slugger Robinson Cano. But plunking Chase Utley with a 99 mph fastball was about the only mistake Harvey made until Utley singled with one out in the fourth.
Harvey also allowed a single to Michael Young in the sixth and a double to Delmon Young in the seventh inning of his 30th career start.
”I think Matt was on a little bit of a mission today to silence all of the other stuff that’s going on and let everybody know he’s here to pitch and here to play baseball,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”I think today he went out there with a little anger.”
Scott Atchison gave up a single in two innings to complete the Mets’ fifth shutout of the year. The Phillies have been blanked eight times.
At the All-Star game, Harvey said he was looking forward to meeting Lee. Whether or not the two pitchers spent any quality time together at the chaotic Midsummer Classic, Harvey certainly impressed Lee, who was making his 300th start.
Repeatedly reaching 99 mph on the scoreboard radar on Dwight Gooden bobblehead day, Harvey struck out the side in the third and fifth and threw a 100 mph pitch during a strikeout of Domonic Brown in the fourth.
Harvey struck out Brown three times, the final one his 10th of the day. The big right-hander has six games with double-digit strikeouts this year. He had his fourth game of at least 10 strikeouts without walking a batter.
Manuel isn’t too excited about facing Harvey several times a year.
”You have to think day-to-day, game-to-game,” he said. ”Otherwise, you might get scared.”
Brown, also an All-Star, fanned all four times up.
Wright’s 15th homer hit high off the added fencing to protect fans and was confirmed after a review of 1 minute, 27 seconds. Lagares’ liner was more questionable, hitting just above the orange line that tops the padded wall.
Wright led off the fourth with a single and Josh Satin got a hit one out later. After John Buck flied out, Lagares sent a 1-2, hanging curveball over the new fence that was erected to shorten dimensions before the 2012 season. He waited on second base with his hands on his hips when three of the four umpires went inside for a look at the replay. Fans stood and twirled their finger, signaling homer, and when crew chief Mike Winters emerged he did the same.
Lagares said he watched video during the All-Star break to figure out what he was doing wrong at the plate. He went 7 for 10 with five RBIs against the Phillies.
Lee has allowed seven homers in his last two outings after yielding nine in his first 18 starts. He allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings for his first road loss since May 1, a span of nine starts.
”What really is frustrating is that the home runs – all with two strikes and all with two outs,” Lee said.
NOTES: Phillies RHP Roy Halladay threw off a mound for the first time since shoulder surgery in early May. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Halladay tossed about 20 pitches, all fastballs. … Mets INF Justin Turner went 0 for 2 for Class-A Brooklyn on Saturday night. He is 7 for 25 in eight rehab games. Collins said Turner should return very soon.