Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Matt Harvey vs. Joey Votto: Votto wins
By David Schoenfield
The afternoon tilt between the Reds and Mets at Citi Field would have been just another mid-May game between a good team and a bad team, except the Mets are a good team when Matt Harvey pitches. Some thoughts on an interesting game, which the Reds won 7-4 with three runs in the ninth:
Joey Votto's two-run homer in the third put the Reds up, 2-1.
Harvey didn't have great command on this day (he normally gets a swing-and-miss percentage of 27 percent but was just 13 percent today), although some of that is a testament to the Reds' hitters, especially Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto, who are so good at making a pitcher work to get them out. He left a couple of sliders over the middle of the plate but the one big mistake he made was a 3-0 fastball to Votto with Zack Cozart on second in the third. Votto is Mr. Discipline, so Harvey was probably thinking Votto would take a pitch, especially with first base open and one out. He threw a 96-mph fastball down the middle and Votto launched it over the wall in left.
The next time Votto came up, Cozart was again on second base, although with two outs this time. The Mets didn't fool around and intentionally walked Votto. Brandon Phillips also walked but Harvey got Jay Bruce to ground out on a curveball.
It was 2-2 entering the seventh but Harvey had already thrown 100 pitches. The Reds had the top of their lineup up and while you could consider bringing in a lefty there to face Choo, who is hitting .146 against southpaws, this is the Mets' bullpen we're talking about and Jesse Orosco and John Franco weren't available. Harvey got Choo on a groundball but Cozart singled to center. That brought up Votto, with Harvey at 109 pitches. Mr. Discipline would take a pitch here, right? Maybe try to take a walk against a pitcher nearing the end of his stint? Nope. Harvey started him off with a changeup and Votto lined a single to center. Phillips then singled to give the Reds the lead and knock Harvey out of the game. (The Reds added another run to make it 4-2.)
It was the first time in 16 starts that Harvey allowed more than three runs (in fact, he'd given up as many as three only two times) and the second start this year where he allowed more hits than innings. I guess he's allowed to be human every now and then.
In the bottom of the seventh, Daniel Murphy singled off Mat Latos with two outs to drive in a run and make it 4-3. Latos was only at 99 pitches, but Mets announcer Ron Darling suggested a pitching change may be in order since Ankiel had been on Latos all day. Dusty Baker left in Latos and Ankiel tripled off the wall in left to tie it up. And then Dusty took out his starter.
Ike Davis is having the season from hell. He did draw two walks and Darling suggested he looked a little more comfortable at the plate, but he's now hitting a miserable .147/.236/.245. And then a bit of defensive indecision cost the Mets in the ninth. With runners at the corners (Votto had been intentionally walked again), here's the result of Phillips' check-swing, go-ahead RBI double. I don't know if Davis had a shot at the runner at home, but you still have to field the ball and let the ump call it foul instead of hoping it goes foul.
Votto is now hitting .358/.484/.545 with seven home runs. And there are those complaining that he's not driving in enough runs.