Matt Harvey already has flashed the potential to flirt with a no-hitter any time he takes the mound.
He might even complete nine hitless innings one day, but as of now, there is no assurance the Mets will win the game.
Harvey, who had carried no-hit bids into the seventh inning three times already this season, briefly flirted with a perfect game on Friday night before losing it on Ian Desmond’s solo home run in the fifth inning. The hard-luck ace departed after yet another overpowering and masterfully pitched seven innings, but the bullpen squandered Harvey’s three-run lead and the Mets went on to an atrocious 6-4 loss to the Nationals at Citi Field.
Ryan Zimmerman ripped a three-run double to left-center against Brandon Lyon in the eighth for a 4-4 tie, before Bobby Parnell coughed up the decisive runs in the ninth on Desmond’s RBI double and Kurt Suzuki’s sacrifice fly.
Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News
Mets relief pitcher Brandon Lyon hands over the ball to Terry Collins after allowing a three-run game-tying double to Ryan Zimmerman.
Harvey certainly has to be at or near the top of a short list to start the All-Star Game on July 16 in the Mets’ home ballpark; he leads the National League in ERA (2.00), strikeouts (132) and several other pitching categories. The 24-year-old righty remains 7-1 — with nine no-decisions in 17 starts – despite allowing just one run on three hits over seven innings (109 pitches) — with no walks and 11 K’s, the fifth time this season he’s reached double figures.
Dillon Gee will start the middle game of the series for the Mets (32-44) on Saturday, with Harvey bookending with prized pitching prospect Zack Wheeler in his anticipated home debut on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a big game,” said Wheeler, who made his first two career starts on the Mets’ recent road trip. “I’m going to be here for a lot of years to come. This will be my home. So hopefully I can go out there and do well.”
After tossing six scoreless innings in his debut on June 18 against the Braves — near his Atlanta-area hometown — Wheeler didn’t fare as well in his second start a week later against the White Sox in Chicago. The 23-year-old righty went 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on four hits, with three walks and just one strikeout.
The Mets were concerned the rookie hurler was tipping pitches, and pitching coach Dan Warthen worked with Wheeler on correcting that problem during a bullpen session Friday.