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The fact that Matt Harvey was bound to have a bad day at the office doesn't make it any more fun to watch him get smacked around by a Padres lineup that's less offensive than any joke Jeffrey Ross told at Roseanne's roast.
Since Harvey is about the only reason to keep smiling in this Mets season, a day when he doesn't perform well is going to feel extra painful. We're here to tell you that it wasn't all bad, though.
As Kevin Kernan of the Post perfectly put it in his column Monday, Harvey can now officially be considered a Met because he's taken one on the chin. Since it has to happen sometime, it might as well happen after two strong showings in a season going nowhere fast.
More seriously, though, you can find things to like about the way Harvey pitched in the 7-3 loss. His command was not good and his secondary pitches weren't doing anything special, but Harvey still managed to wiggle his way out of trouble as often as he let the trouble get the best of him.
He pitched around a leadoff triple in the second and allowed no runs with runners on first and third with no one out in the fourth, which at least says something about Harvey's fight when he doesn't have his best stuff. You'd like him to find himself in fewer bad situations, obviously, but it's certainly nice to know that he isn't going to just surrender when those situations do arise.
These aren't things that the Mets can find out about Harvey if he is in the minors, even if he'd be likely to run into a few lineups more potent than the one the Padres put on the field every day. They're called growing pains because they are painful, but also because the pain leads to growth that will make for happier days in the years to follow.
Harvey's arrival makes it possible to look at the Mets of 2013 and see a team that can contend. A rotation featuring R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana (who pitched well in a rehab outing in Brooklyn Sunday), Jon Niese and Harvey with Zack Wheeler (whose first Triple-A start was rained out) waiting in the wings is good enough to challenge the rest of the NL East if the team figures out a way to acquire relief pitchers capable of actually providing relief.
Sunday was part of the process of getting to that point. Harvey might have crashed to Earth, but it's hard to get too upset about it because it proved that he's for real.
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