Matt Harvey snuffs out the Royals' hitting power in Angels' 5-2 win

Maria Torres, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For weeks, perhaps all season, starter Matt Harvey had wobbled when on the mound for the Angels.

He had run up his pitch count so early that manager Brad Ausmus pulled him out of games before he could finish five innings in all but three of his first eight starts. He had allowed so much traffic on the bases that his 1.4 walks-and-hits-per-inning-pitched rate led the starting rotation.

In a 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night at Angel Stadium, Harvey finally began to emerge from behind the shroud.

Harvey pitched into the sixth inning for the first time since facing the Royals last month. He was charged two runs after striking out six and scattering four hits.

According to MLB's Statcast system, Harvey has never yielded as hard contact as he has this season. Balls hit by opponents carried an average exit velocity of 91 mph across Harvey's first eight starts.

The Royals mustered nothing of the sort Friday. Even wielding a fastball that hovered around 93 mph, Harvey limited contact on balls in play to 84 mph. He hadn't performed that well since his season debut. When he held these same Royals to two hits and one run over seven innings on April 28, they hit baseballs 10 mph harder.


Harvey's start wasn't flawless. He issued four walks, two of them after getting ahead in the count. He flirted with disaster in the third. Whit Merrifield reached with two out on a bloop single to shallow right field that second baseman Tommy La Stella attempted, and failed, to catch. Rookie Nicky Lopez lined a single to put runners on the corners. Harvey induced an inning-ending groundball on the next pitch.

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who had allowed 21 stolen bases and only thrown out five runners before Friday night, saved Harvey from a big inning in the fifth when he gunned down Merrifield on a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play that ended a Royals threat.

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