Mets ride Nimmo (2 HRs) to victory over Reds
NEW YORK — On Nov. 1, 2015, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia each pitched for the New York Mets in the ninth inning of a World Series elimination game at Citi Field.
There is no better way to measure how far the Mets — and Familia and, in particular, Harvey — have fallen in the last 685 days than what happened Thursday night, when the incremental progress Harvey and Familia made in a nondescript late-season game was overshadowed by the exploits of a 22-year-old who was in the minor leagues in 2015.
Brandon Nimmo enjoyed his first two-homer game as a major leaguer Thursday, when Harvey posted his first win in more than three months by pitching five innings in a 7-2 victory over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
Nimmo started in the cleanup spot for the second time as a big leaguer despite entering the game with only one homer and five extra-base hits in 95 at-bats this season. He had three extra-base hits Thursday. Nimmo doubled and scored in the second, homered leading off the fifth and completed the Mets’ scoring with a two-run homer in the sixth.
Nimmo had just two two-homer games in the minors, both of which he produced last season in the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
“As I’m going around first base, I said to myself ‘I can’t believe I hit two home runs in a major league game,’” Nimmo said. “I was in shock going around the bases.”
Those who remember the Mets of 2015 might have been shocked by the reaction to Harvey’s workmanlike effort. Harvey (5-4) allowed two runs, five hits and one walk while striking out one in five innings in winning for the first time since May 28.
“Not where I want to be, but definitely moving the right way,” Harvey said.
Harvey’s career has been backsliding since 2015, when he went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 regular-season starts in 2015 before posting a 3.04 ERA in the postseason and carrying a shutout into the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series.
He was lifted after allowing the first two Kansas City players to reach and Familia eventually allowed the tying runs to score. The Royals went on to win the game, and the World Series, in 12 innings.
Harvey went 4-10 with a 4.85 ERA in 17 starts last season before undergoing surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome. He returned last Saturday after missing more than two months with a right shoulder injury.
“(2015) was completely different — I was pitching the entire year, we were on such a roll in September that there wasn’t really much that was going to get in our way,” Harvey said. “I understand it’s a process. I don’t want to jump out there and immediately try and be what I know I’m capable of being eventually.”
Josh Smoker struck out the side in the sixth, after which Familia allowed one hit in two scoreless innings. Such low-leverage situations are unfamiliar to Familia, who helped the Mets reach the wild-card game last season by posting a team-record 51 saves.
But he has been slow to round into form after missing three months due to a blood clot in his right shoulder and entered Thursday having allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings since being activated from the disabled list on Aug. 26.
“He’s one of those projects here at the end of the year, we’ve got to let him go pitch and we’ve got to get him to throw a number of pitches so that his arm strength builds,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He was a huge factor on our club and it’s nice to see him back out there.”
Dominic Smith had an RBI single in the second, Jose Reyes laced a two-run single in the fourth and Juan Lagares homered immediately after Nimmo in the fifth for the Mets (61-79), who have won three of four.
Adam Duvall had a sacrifice fly in the first for the Reds and Philip Ervin hit an RBI double in the second for the Reds (61-80), who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Scott Schebler had two doubles.
“I thought we put the ball in play hard a lot,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “Just didn’t have anything to show for it.”
Rookie right-hander Tyler Mahle (0-2) took the loss in his third big league start after allowing three runs, six hits and four walks while striking out two in four innings.
“For a kid that’s pitching in September in the big leagues for the first time, it just seemed like a good time to get him out of there,” Price said.
NOTES: Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard (torn right lat) made his second rehab start, allowing three runs in two innings for Class A Brooklyn. ... The Mets announced INF Wilmer Flores (broken nose) will miss the rest of the season. ... The Reds placed CF Billy Hamilton (broken left thumb) on the 10-day disabled list. The club hopes Hamilton, who was injured during a bunt attempt Wednesday, will return this season. ... Reds LHP Amir Garrett, who played college basketball at nearby St. John’s, will make his first major league start since June 20 on Friday.