Matt Harvey's nearly perfect game

Nick Laham

Last year, Johan Santana finally threw the first no-hitter in Mets history. Sure, he needed a little help from a half-blind umpire. But he threw it.

Tuesday night, phenom Matt Harvey nearly threw the second no-hitter in Mets history. Facing the White Sox, Harvey retired the first 20 hitters he faced. But the 21st, Alex Rios, grounded a ball into the shortstop hole. Ruben Tejada did his best, but his best wasn't quite enough and Rios beat the throw by a step.

That was all Harvey would give up. He pitched nine innings, gave up just the one (infield) hit, didn't walk anybody, and struck out a dozen White Sox. He didn't actually win, because the Mets didn't score until the 10th. But everything worked out okay.

As you might guess, Harvey's start ranks among the more dominant starts in franchise history. His 97 Game Score isn't close to the record, though. The record is well out of reach: in 1965, rookie Rob Gardner went 15 innings for a 112 Game Score. God knows how many pitches he threw. In 1974, Tom Seaver struck out 16 Dodgers in 12 innings. He also gave up a homer and took a no-decision -- the Dodgers won in the 14th -- but finished with a 106 Game Score that's also highly unlikely to be equaled, simply because it's practically impossible to reach that level without throwing a lot of pitches over the course of at least 10 innings, and pitchers just aren't allowed to do those things anymore.

Anyway, here are the next-highest Game Scores in franchise history:

99 David Cone (1991)
98 Tom Seaver (1971)
97 Jerry Koosman (1969)
97 Tom Seaver (1970)
97 Matt Harvey (2013)

In case you're wondering, there have been six 96's: R.A. Dickey (last year), Chris Capuano, Seaver (twice), Dick Selma, and Al Jackson. In case you weren't wondering, my apologies.

Harvey's obviously in some pretty fantastic company, and what he's done this spring obviously says some wonderful things about his potential. I will mention in passing that with strikeouts going up (it seems like) every week, we should expect to see more no-hitters and perfect games and high-90s games scores than we've seen before.

Which doesn't mean Harvey's not terribly impressive. Another few weeks of this, and we're going to have to start wondering if maybe he's the best young pitcher on the planet. But let's please give it those few weeks, or else we might wind up feeling pretty ridiculous.

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