Matt Harvey gave up one run in seven innings Thursday against the Cardinals.
He left with his team trailing 1-0, which resulted in him suffering his first loss of the season. After the game, he said:
“You guys know me, I don’t like to lose. Today I needed to go out and put up zeroes and I wasn’t able to do that. If I go seven with seven zeroes then we’re still playing the ballgame and have a better chance of winning. Obviously, I’m not happy about losing. I don’t like losing even if I don’t pitch. ... I can’t control what the offense is doing. I can only go out there and I can pitch and try to put up as many zeroes as I can. There is no outside distractions. I have to stay focused on my job at hand. That’s going out and pitching every fifth day and trying to give up no runs. The wins and losses don’t mean anything to me personally. It’s a matter of the team winning. Today, I didn’t do my job and put up zeroes, and we got the loss.”It's sad that he feels he has to be perfect in order to win. What's nice is that he thinks he can do it... and that he should do it. It's too bad that he has to do it for a chance to win.
“You could just tell he wants to win so bad," David Wright said of Harvey after Thursday's loss to the Cardinals.
Yes, it's frustrating for him, but this attitude is why he can fundamentally change the Mets.
This is new thinking for this organization. In their history, I can only remember the team setting these type of expectations twice: once in 1986, when Davey Johnson told his team in Spring Training that they would dominate the NL East, and they did; and in 2007, when Carlos Beltran talked about being "the team to beat," which, eventually, they weren't.
It's not just about wins for Harvey, though. It's about effort and excellence and focus and will, and from those, the wins will come. In his incredible start against the Yankees, Marlon Byrd misplayed a ball in left field. Harvey openly banged his fist against his leg and shook his head after the play was over. Later, after the runner scored, he slowly stomped to the dugout, repeatedly slammed his glove and hat against the bench, then sat on the top step and glared at the opposition.
He has expectations for himself and for his teammates and he lets them know it -- upfront -- and in public. More importantly, he raises my expectations as a fan. He makes me think anything is possible when he is on the mound. The other four days of the week, not so much...
We hear a lot from the Mets about needing to "execute" and "play better." We've heard about "meaningful games," and "contending."
Harvey doesn't want to just contend, he wants to dominate. He doesn't want to be better, he expects to be the best. He doesn't shy away from this or hide his emotions and expectations of others. He doesn't just talk, he does it on the field.
This type of language and emotion is rare for the Mets. He has the ability to raise the bar here, for everyone involved, and I hope the Mets are smart enough to find other likeminded people (from players to management) who see themselves and their teammates the same way.
By the way, this photograph of Harvey was taken by friend, David Apuzzo, who was in the photo box the night Harvey pitched against the Yankees. He does terrific work. I'm waiting for him to send me some of his shots from the night, to occasionally post on MetsBlog through the season.