Wednesday April 15th, 2015

The big draw for Tuesday night's Mets-Phillies game was supposed to be Matt Harvey's first start at home in 2015. Instead, the evening turned into a sideshow of hit batsmen and blown calls, culminating in a bizarre fifth inning featuring a somewhat-intentional hit-by-pitch and a phantom catcher's interference, with New York hanging on for a 6-5 win over Philadelphia.

Harvey began the night with three strikeouts (and a homer allowed to Chase Utley) in his first frame, but it was Phillies starter David Buchanan who found himself in the spotlight after a second inning in which he plunked two batters. Juan Lagares singled to start the bottom of the second, followed by Buchanan drilling Wilmer Flores in the wrist. Flores was okay, but the same couldn't be said of Michael Cuddyer, who took a Buchanan fastball off the left hand just a few batters later.

Cuddyer left the game immediately after the HBP, but it looks as if he and the Mets avoided a major problem; the team announced later that X-rays on Cuddyer's hand had come back negative and that he had been diagnosed with a contusion.

The Mets got some payback the next inning, albeit accidentally. With a runner on second and two out, Harvey grazed Freddy Galvis on the arm with a fastball, though replays were inconclusive as to whether Harvey had made contact at all with the Phillies' shortstop. Mets manager Terry Collins appeared to challenge the play, and the umpires appeared to review it before ruling that Galvis had indeed been hit. As it turns out, however, the umpires were actually checking whether or not Collins had challenged the play in time and decided that he had not. That whole snafu took roughly four minutes. Utley followed with an RBI single, though Harvey struck out Ryan Howard to finish the inning.

The weirdness peaked in the top of the fifth. After a leadoff double by Buchanan—yes, the pitcher doubled—Harvey got Odubel Herrera to fly out to center, followed by Galvis popping up a bunt attempt with Buchanan on third and one out. With two down and first base open, New York put Utley on, but not with an intentional walk. Instead, Harvey hit him in the lower back. That prompted warnings from the umpires, as well as some heated words from Collins and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.

With two on, two out and the Citi Field crowd in a frenzy after Utley's plunking, Harvey faced Howard, who had already struck out twice on the night. On a 2-2 count, Harvey appeared to get a 97 mph fastball by Howard, only to have home plate umpire Alfonzo Marquez rule that catcher Travis d'Arnaud had interfered with Howard's swing. Although the play couldn't be challenged, replays showed that d'Arnaud's glove never made contact with Howard's bat.

(GIF courtesy of @MetsKevin11)

A furious Collins gave Marquez an earful, eventually getting ejected after a long and fruitless tirade. Harvey, however, bounced back by getting Carlos Ruiz to pop out to third, ending the threat and sparing Marquez an embarrassing postgame.

It didn't get any simpler for the Mets from there, though. Marquez nearly blew another call at home on a tag play in the bottom of the fifth, somehow missing Lucas Duda touching the plate with his foot on his slide attempt but ruling him safe when Duda lunged for the plate afterward. Then in the eighth, David Wright reached on a single and stole second base, only to come out of the game with a hamstring strain. Because New York had already used Ruben Tejada, its only reserve infielder, to pinch hit for Harvey in the sixth, Wright's exit forced backup catcher Anthony Recker to take over at third base, a position he had never before played in the majors or the minors. Fortunately for Recker and the Mets, the Phillies didn't put a ball in play in his direction in the ninth.

Amidst all the strangeness, the night's main attraction got through his second start relatively unscathed. Though he gave up homers to Utley and Cody Asche, Harvey struck out eight in six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and no walks in what will likely be his weirdest outing of the year.

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