PHILADELPHIA — A little left hamstring cramp could not darken the Dark Knight’s night.
Amidst a sea of seven home runs, three by Yoenis Cespedes, two by Lucas Duda, and one each by Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis d’Arnaud, the Mets pulverized the pitching-poor Phillies, 14-4 Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
As a result Matt Harvey is 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA, half the wins he accumulated in all of 2016.
Two starts into his return from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, Harvey could not have expected a better beginning and it puts the Mets in great shape with their Big Three of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Harvey.
The Mets entered Tuesday with the best ERA in the NL East with a 3.27 mark, fourth-best in the NL. The Nationals were dead last at 5.74. Already there is separation.
“That’s who we are,’’ manager Terrry Collins said of his team’s pitching prowess.
Harvey said the injury, first listed as a tight hamstring as a result of awkwardly covering first base, will “definitely’’ not keep him from his next start.
Every start is part of the learning process of figuring out how to pitch and not just fire fastballs. In the past Harvey did not get much run support, in two starts this year he has 20 runs.
“It’s awesome,’’ Harvey said.
“There’s some adjustments here and there,’’ said Harvey, who allowed two runs, five hits, one home run and one walk over 5 ²/₃ innings.
He also struck out six. “I’m trying to stay as focused as you can, with the struggles last year and with the surgery there are going to be times I get out of my mechanics and rhythm.’’
Bottom line: Harvey gives the Mets a fantastic No. 3 starter.
Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen, a former major league pitcher, said he is impressed. Asked what he thought of the Mets Big Three he said, “I’d rather go to a viewing, sometimes it turns out to be just that.’’
Harvey is learning how to pitch without his top velocity because he is coming off that TOS surgery and the Mets have reshaped how Harvey goes about his business.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen came up with a plan for Harvey, knowing he would not be at maximum velocity for probably for 10-12 months.
“I did whatever I could to find out whatever I could about coming back from this surgery,’’ Warthen said. “The big thing is getting all those muscles back from being atrophied to getting back to full strength.
“He’s working hard, the hardest I’ve ever seen Harv work so I think he could be ahead of schedule.’’ Warthen said. “I think we have his delivery in order again. I think he got himself out of it by trying to throw hard last year, didn’t know what was going on and he was frustrated the whole year. I think he’s gotten back to his regular delivery and I think he can step it up. He now knows where the ball is going.’’
Meanwhile, the Legend of Thor continues. Consider this comment Syndergaard made to Warthen on Monday. Saying he felt good following his Sunday night victory, Syndergaard told the pitching coach: “I can pitch again today.’’
Instead of pitching, Thor simply borrowed the Phillie Phanatic’s ATV during stretch.
Collins said Harvey, who has had Tommy John surgery, too, has had to change his style because of thoracic outlet syndrome.
“For years he could pump a 98-mph fastball by you,’’ Collins said. “Now he is mixing up pitches.’’
Harvey topped out at 95 Tuesday night. He is a work in progress but with Syndergaard and deGrom carrying the first two spots in the rotation, Harvey can settle in as the No. 3 and will be able to dominate other team’s No. 3.
What an advantage that is for Collins and the Mets.
“We just have to continue to be patient as he continues to build up his arm strength again,’’ Collins said.
Harvey can regain his Dark Knight status for he has plenty of rotation help. He just needs to stay healthy this time around.