Padres unload on Harvey, defeat Mets 7-3

You had to figure that rookie Matt Harvey would eventually have a rough major league start. The surprising part is that the first lousy start of Harvey’s big league career came in the pitcher’s haven of Petco Park.

Harvey’s outing got ugly right away as Chase Headley drove a lazy change-up up and over the right field wall. With Everth Cabrera already on base with a double, Headley’s blast gave the Padres a 2-0 first inning lead. Harvey settled down to nicely pitch around Will Venable’s triple in the second, but he got into trouble once again in the third.

With the bases empty and two outs, Harvey issued his first walk of the afternoon to Headley. The next batter, Carlos Quentin, ripped a double up the right-center field gap that scored Headley all the way from first. Yonder Alonso came up next and smashed a Harvey fastball over the center field wall for a home run to give San Diego a 5-0 lead.

“He has a power fastball. … We knew he was going to throw it,” Alonso said. “We knew he was a guy that liked his fastball and he was going to be around the plate. We were hopeful that he was going to leave them up and [we could] put good swings on them.”

After the game, Harvey said he was having issues with locating his pitches.

“When I tried to go away, it was either six inches away or six inches middle,” Harvey said. “It was one of those days where I couldn’t find the strike zone. And when I did, it was not quality. I wasn’t executing the way I had the last two starts. It’s just one of those days.”

Harvey ended up getting through two more innings without allowing another run. He ended his day with four doubles and two home runs allowed in five innings pitched. However, Harvey’s five strikeouts and just one walk allowed are a nice little silver lining to hang onto.

The Mets got on the board when Ronny Cedeño pinch hit for Harvey in the top of the sixth and launched a two-run homer out to right field. Jason Marquis had been mowing down the Mets up until that point, but Cedeño was able to turn on an inside fastball. The reserve infielder is now batting .297/.366/.459 for the season, which is quite outstanding compared to his .248/.290./.356 career line. Hopefully the Mets don’t get too carried away. Cedeño only has 123 plate appearances this season, and at age 29, if he was going to break out, he would have broken out already.

The Mets got another run in the seventh when Ike Davis hit a lead-off double and was driven in by Jason Bay’s sac fly, but the Padres got one right back on Carlos Quentin’s home run off of Ramon Ramirez. Ramirez allowed another run in the eigth on Mark Kotsay’s RBI double and that was it for the scoring.

Here’s the box score. As you can see, the Mets struggled to do much of anything against Marquis, who had five strikeouts and one walk in 6.1 innings with just four hits allowed.

I wouldn’t classify this start by Harvey as a disaster. It could be considered a setback, but Harvey still showed that he can miss bats and I’m pleased with his willingness to go after hitters. The problem was he made too many mistakes within the strike zone that he might have gotten away with in the minor leagues. Harvey clearly has the ability to be consistent starter; he just need to execute more precisely in the future.

The Mets have Monday off and after that they take on the Marlins for three games at Citi Field. Wade LeBlanc and Jon Niese are the probable starters for Tuesday night.

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