Matt Harvey is far from dominant, but he gets the win in Arizona Thursday.
PHOENIX – At least Matt Harvey’s arm is OK. After all the consternation about keeping the Mets young starters healthy, especially Harvey, the Mets took what could be another body blow to their infield Thursday night with Daniel Murphy leaving in the third inning of the Mets 6-2 win over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field because of a left leg injury.
That tempered the enthusiasm of the first win for Harvey (6-3) in his last six starts, dating back to May 1. He allowed two runs, both on solo home runs. The Diamondbacks (25-28) had six hits off him total. He walked one and struck out nine. Struggling back-up outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. had a career-high four hits, including a two-run homer in the ninth and Jeurys Familia got the final five outs for his 16th save as the Mets (30-25) snapped a two-game losing streak.
Murphy, who doubled in the first inning, left the game in the top of the third inning with what the team said was “left quad tightness,” after trying to run out a ground ball to shortstop. Murphy was just the latest the in a long list of Mets injuries to position players and relievers and it was not even four innings after Terry Collins rearranged his infield. The Mets manager had finally committed to use Murphy regularly at third while Wright’s rehab from lower back pain caused by spinal stenosis continued to drag on indefinitely. Collins had Ruben Tejada, who had started six games at third, at second base Thursday.
“With the news that David is week to week, and at least a couple weeks here if not more, we have got to start putting our best defense out there,” the Mets manager said. “I am true believer in good pitching and good defense. We certainly have the good pitching.”
It looked like a smart move early on. With two Diamondbacks on base, Murphy smoothly fielded Yasmany Tomas’ ground ball and fired to Tejada at second, who turned the 5-4-3 double play to get Harvey out of a jam in the first.
Reserve outfielder John Mayberry Jr. carries the Mets offense to a win.
He needed it to get going.
Starting slow Thursday, Harvey seemed to amp up his game after Jarrod Saltalamacchia drilled a laser into to the right-center seats with two outs in the second. His fastball jumped up to 97 a couple times, topping out at 98, and he struck out five straight in the third and fourth and retired nine straight until he gave up another solo shot to Diamondback first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
That was the ninth home run Harvey has given up this season, two more than he gave up in 178.1 innings in 2013 before he missed all of the 2014 after Tommy John surgery. That is one reminder to the Mets that Harvey is still feeling his way back.
“We still see signs of the guy who missed an entire season, one of the reasons we went to the six man is so he gets a day here and there and stays strong,” Collins said. “But as I have told Matt many times, if he stays healthy and we get him where we want to get him.
“We are going to win a lot of baseball games.”
That will be a lot harder if Murphy is out for any extended period of time.
The Mets offense was already struggling with him hitting .281 with four homers and 29 RBI. They took the lead on a three-run sixth inning highlighted by Kevin Plawecki’s two-run double. Mayberry, who broke out of a 0-for-9 streak, scored on Curtis Granderson’s pinch-hit single in the eighth.
An injury to Murphy could create some urgency as Mets look for help externally and internally. The Mets have privately discussed trading for utility infielder Ben Zobrist and Brewers’ third baseman Aramis Ramirez, a source told the News Thursday.
The Mets internal options are limited.
They are carrying just Campbell, who went 0-for-3 coming in for Murphy Thursday night as a back-up infielder. Dilson Herrera, the Mets top second base prospect, just played his first rehab game Thursday after suffering a broken finger tip last month. Matt Reynolds, the Mets shortstop prospect is hitting .271 in Triple-A and has played eight games at second base this season.
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