The Baltimore Orioles opened the season Friday by watching John Means dominate and pitch like an ace.
It is what Matt Harvey did at various points early in his career before getting derailed by injuries. Harvey will make his debut for the Orioles on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox.
The Orioles are trying to win their second straight after Means allowed one hit in seven impressive innings and was in complete command. Means allowed a leadoff single to Enrique Hernandez, then just one other baserunner and retired the last 18 hitters he faced.
Harvey produced outings like those early in his career with the New York Mets from 2012-15. He was 25-18 with a 2.53 ERA in his first three seasons with the Mets, a stretch that included being anointed the "Dark Knight" for a Sports Illustrated cover story and starting the 2013 All-Star Game in New York.
Harvey is 17-34 with a 5.82 ERA since the end of the 2015 season, which finished with him pitching into the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. He also dealt with thoracic outlet surgery in 2016.
Harvey is pitching for his fourth team since leaving the Mets in May 2018. He made 24 starts in 2018 for the Cincinnati Reds in 2018, 12 for the Los Angeles Angels in 2019 and was 0-3 with a 11.57 ERA in seven appearances (four starts) for the Kansas City Royals last season.
"I'm not trying to be as good as I was," Harvey said during spring training. "I'm trying to be better."
The Orioles signed him to a minor league contract in mid-February, with him making the team after showing a fastball that occasionally reached 95 mph and was frequently between 90 and 94 mph. He learned he was making the team on March 25 -- two days before he turned 32.
"When you start an All-Star Game and then you pitch in the World Series, I think the last thing you ever think of is how excited you'll be to make a team again," Harvey said. "It was a good, early birthday present, and it's probably one of the best I've had."
Harvey, who is a Connecticut native, is making his second career appearance against the Red Sox and first in Boston. He spun six scoreless innings allowing only two hits for the Mets on August 28, 2015.
Coming off a last-place finish in the shortened 2020 season, the Red Sox were held to two hits and were blanked in a home opener for the first time since also losing to Baltimore in 1976.
It was a rough day for Boston's newcomers.
Hernandez was picked off first base two batters into the game and also committed a critical error in the sixth before Matt Andriese allowed a tiebreaking two-run double to Ryan Mountcastle. Marwin Gonzalez popped up twice in going 0-for-3.
"I think I would have traded that base hit for catching that ball and the outcome of the game would have been different," Hernandez said. "We probably still would have been playing. Yeah, tough time to make an error there."
After Nathan Eovaldi allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings, Tanner Houck will make his fourth career start for Boston. Houck posted a 5.06 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances (two starts) and is hoping to display what he did last season.
Houck was 3-0 with a 0.53 ERA in three starts and in those outings against the Miami Marlins, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves. He struck out 21 of 63 hitters.
--Field Level Media