NEW YORK -- As Jordany Valdespin laughed and celebrated the spoils of his walk-off grand slam late Wednesday night, Matt Harvey stood in another corner of the clubhouse, relatively stoic. Harvey was happy -- thrilled -- that the Mets won, but he was noticeably unhappy with the way he pitched.
Perhaps nothing speaks to Harvey's personality better than the seriousness with which he dissected his six innings, three runs, seven strikeouts and one walk -- by definition, a quality start -- after the 7-3, 10-inning win over the Dodgers.
"That's his nature -- not being satisfied with just being good or having a good outing," catcher John Buck said. "He wants to be great."
And through his first four starts, he was exemplary, taking a 4-0 record and 0.93 ERA into Wednesday's game. But he was merely adequate against the Dodgers, falling in danger of his first loss when Matt Kemp hit a replay-confirmed homer over the right-field wall.
That the Mets ultimately recovered to tie the score in the ninth and win in the 10th was a boon for Harvey, but he could not help but focus on what he considered a subpar fastball and an overall lack of sharpness.
"I'll be mad tonight, but obviously happy about the team win," Harvey said. "Tomorrow, it's a new day. It's time to work toward my next start."
Gushing about Harvey regardless, teammates lauded the fact that the Mets are now 5-0 in games he started. The right-hander bulled his way through Wednesday's outing thanks to a heavy dose of changeups, which he used to offset his relatively dull fastball. Buck began calling the offspeed pitches early, hoping to counter the aggressiveness of Los Angeles' hitters.
The result was a similar peripheral stat line for Harvey, who struck out seven, walked one and allowed only four hits in six innings. He now has 109 strikeouts in his first 15 career games, trailing only Dwight Gooden (113) and Nolan Ryan (112) for the most in franchise history.
But Kemp's home run was the difference between adequacy and excellence -- between a celebratory mood and a downtrodden one for the ever-serious Harvey.
"I didn't like it," he said of his outing. "But tonight's about winning, and we did that."