New York Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera gloved a rally-killing ground ball in the top of the seventh inning Monday afternoon and fired to first base, and Matt Harvey pumped his fist reflexively and started striding toward the home dugout. In that short journey, maybe all the good of the day began to sink in for Harvey.
The sky hadn't collapsed on him again. Harvey had reminded everyone -- including himself -- that he had the stuff to be an elite pitcher. His fastball had reached 98 mph, his slider was good, his delivery much more consistent, and the Mets' fans cheered him again.
When Harvey reached the top step of the dugout, he shouted a happy profanity and stepped into a wave of high-fives and backslaps from teammates. After he sat down, some teammates seemed to double up on their congratulations to the right-hander, with Jacob deGrom and others tapping him on the leg. They know better than anybody else how much Harvey has struggled. They know better than anyone else that he could represent the difference between good and great for the 2016 Mets.
Harvey was not close to throwing his best Monday, when he left some pitches in the middle of the plate and sometimes had big misses on his target. His matchup against the run-starved Chicago White Sox was fortuitous, for sure, but Harvey was right in how he described the day: It was a good first step.
Internally, the Mets had thought this sort of turnaround was possible because, in spite of the fact Harvey entered the day with a 6.08 ERA, there had always been building blocks.