PHILADELPHIA -- The superlatives continue to pile up for second-year starter Matt Harvey, who is entering rarer and rarer company.
With another standout start Monday, Harvey joined Nolan Ryan as the only Mets pitchers to open a season by allowing three or fewer hits in consecutive starts of seven or more innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Harvey also joined David Cone and Pedro Martinez as the only Mets pitchers to begin a season with nine or more strikeouts in two straight starts.
Since he made his big league debut last July 26, Harvey has struck out 10.92 batters per nine innings, which tops the National League. His strikeout rate over that period trails only that of Detroit's Max Scherzer (11.32) and Texas' Yu Darvish (11.02).
"He has that ability, when he misses out over the plate, to get good hitters to miss," catcher John Buck said. "It just has that extra oomph."
Perhaps most impressive is that Harvey managed to add to his early success Monday night in Philadelphia, despite a relative lack of fastball command.
"There was definitely a difference between the first start and this one," Harvey said. "I could tell in the bullpen that I was going to have to battle a little harder than I did the first time."
Davis gets breather, reflects on season's first week
PHILADELPHIA -- Ike Davis was out of the lineup Tuesday for a routine rest against Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, giving way to backup first baseman Justin Turner. The respite left Davis with plenty of time to reflect on his first seven games of the season, which have been better than last year -- though not by much.
Davis entered Tuesday's play batting .148 with one home run and a .517 OPS, versus an .043 average with no home runs and a .197 OPS through seven games last year.
Still, Davis insists he feels far superior than he did last April. The problem, he says, is that opposing pitchers have been painting the outside edge of the strike zone with regularity.
"They're not going over the heart of the plate," Davis said of the pitches he has seen. "If you look at the video, they're hitting corners pretty well right now."
That much, Davis said, will even out over the course of the season. But he also admitted he must do a better job of fouling off pitches on the outside edge, rather than letting them fly by for strikes. By spoiling a backdoor breaking ball, for example, Davis may force pitchers to make mistakes on subsequent offerings.
"That's one of the keys to hitting is to learn how to foul off those tough pitches and continue to battle through the at-bat," manager Terry Collins said. "Eventually [you] hope the pitcher makes a mistake and gets you a ball that you can hit, that you can hit hard."
In Collins' estimation, Davis' main problem is that he is no longer driving balls to the opposite field, as he did with great success throughout Spring Training.
"Home run hitters, when they get into slumps they just want to hit homers," Collins said. "That's the first thing they think of ... because that's their mindset. [They say,] 'I'm here to hit homers.' We've got to get Ike to be the Ike that we saw two years ago in the first half, where the more contact you made, the more dangerous you became."
Citi Field scheduled to host international soccer match
PHILADELPHIA -- The Israeli and Honduran national soccer teams will play a friendly at Citi Field on Sunday, June 2, the Mets announced, marking Israel's first New York soccer appearance in over 35 years.
Tickets start at $20 and will go on sale Monday, April 15 at 10 a.m. at Mets.com/Soccer.
The New York metropolitan region is home to the largest Jewish and Honduran populations in the world outside of Israel and Honduras, according to a Mets release. The June 2 match will also take place on the same day as Manhattan's Celebrate Israel Parade.
The Israeli and Honduran national teams are ranked 66th and 55th in the world, respectively.
This marks the third straight year that Citi Field has hosted an international soccer match. Ecuador and Greece played to a 1-1 tie in 2011, and Ecuador returned to defeat Chile, 3-0, last summer.