Their careers have taken vastly different paths, but for at least one night at Citi Field, Matt Harvey got the best of the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg — and the fans let them know.
On April 19, 2013 — with Dwight Gooden in attendance — Harvey outdueled Strasburg in a 7-1 Mets win, highlighted by the Citi Field crowd chanting “Harvey’s better” late in the game.
Harvey was in his first full season in the majors and was off to a tremendous start to the year. And it only got better against Washington in a highly anticipated game.
He allowed just four hits and a run in seven innings, walking three and striking out seven to improve to 4-0 with a 0.93 ERA through four starts. Strasburg, meanwhile, gave up solo homers to Ike Davis and Lucas Duda in the sixth to give the Mets a 4-0 lead — which resulted in the “Harvey’s better” chant.
In the seventh, Harvey pitched his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam to end an outing and matchup he embraced from the start.
“It’s hard not to,” Harvey said after the game. “It’s baseball. After reading the Doc stories, you realize who you’re starting against, especially with that lineup and the Nationals. It was there. It was something I knew I was going to have to take in and not avoid. I used it to energize the start and go out there and do everything I could to win.”
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and meant even more with Gooden in attendance.
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“It’s great that he was here,” Harvey said. “I grew up watching the guy. That’s something special. When I was younger, I grew up wanting to be that guy, wanting to be like guys of his caliber. For him to say stuff about me, to come to one of my starts, it’s mind-boggling. I wanted to do everything I could to win.”
It also looked like it would be just one of many duels between Harvey and Strasburg, both at the outset of their careers.
“That’s what’s fun about our game,” manager Terry Collins said following the game. “When you have two aces, two guys who are very, very good, face each other. It makes for a fun night for the fans and for each team. We’re going to sit here a lot of years talking about this guy. He’s going to be really something.”
But injuries sidetracked Harvey and he’s now without a team, while Strasburg was the World Series MVP in leading the Nationals to the 2019 championship.