CINCINNATI -- Matt Harvey did not want to speculate on his future with the Reds following his start in a 6-2 win over the Phillies on Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
"I'm not talking about that kind of stuff," Harvey said ahead of Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. "I am happy to be here. I love being here. I love throwing to Tucker [Barnhart] and playing with these guys. It is out of my control."
In a no-decision, Harvey went five innings and allowed two runs on two hits with five strikeouts and two walks. The right-hander looked sharp and would have likely gone deeper into the game if his spot in the order had not come up with two outs and the bases loaded in a 2-2 game in the bottom of the fifth. Dilson Herrera pinch-hit for Harvey and struck out to end the inning.
Harvey hit 98 mph on the radar gun, consistently sat in the mid 90s with his fastball and began to look like the pitcher who started the All-Star Game for the National League in 2013 and helped lead the Mets to the NL pennant in 2015 en route to winning the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
"I could feel it coming out pretty good," Harvey said. "When you start taking it up that high and getting swings-and-misses, it kind of brings me back to my old days. Hopefully there is a lot more of that to come."
Harvey's nearly 12-week tenure with the Reds since being traded from the Mets for Devin Mesoraco and cash on May 8 has been positive by all measures. He's amassed a 5-4 record and a 4.44 ERA in 14 starts with 56 strikeouts and 17 walks. Harvey has surrendered three earned runs or fewer in 10 of those starts, and he allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his past seven outings. In eight appearances (four starts) with New York, Harvey was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA and a .303 opponent batting average. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Harvey endured two tumultuous years before coming to Cincinnati. He sputtered to a 4-10 start in 2016 before undergoing season-ending surgery that July following a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome, an ailment that involves the constriction of nerves and blood vessels in the neck and shoulder. The surgery included the removal of a rib to alleviate the pressure of the nerves. The 2017 season brought a right shoulder injury and was marred with inconsistency. At times Harvey was unsure if he'd ever return to form.
"There were definitely times I didn't think this was possible," Harvey said. "The progression over the last two years to get to a point where I can now, it is about maintaining that and not being satisfied with where you are at. It is keeping going and trying to get better each time."
Harvey's lone mistake came in the fourth inning, when Rhys Hoskins clubbed a two-run shot to right-center field to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. It followed a leadoff walk and represented the Phillies' first hit after Harvey retired the first nine batters he faced. The only other hit Harvey gave up came by way of a Maikel Franco double to lead off the fifth, and Harvey stranded him at third base.
"I honestly think he made one mistake tonight," Barnhart said. "That was it. Out of all the pitches he threw, [it was] the one to Hoskins, who is a good hitter. He put a good swing on a ball that got out of the ballpark, but that was as sharp as I have seen him all year. I hope like hell that is not the last time I catch him."
Harvey was at 92 pitches when he was pinch-hit for in the fifth, but his velocity hadn't dipped much. Harvey's last two fastballs came in at 94.4 and 93.5 mph, according to Statcast™.
"We use that phrase, 'It was coming out of his hand good,' and it really was," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "It was exploding out of his hand."
The Reds tied the game on a two-out single from Billy Hamilton in the bottom of the fourth, and he sparked a go-ahead rally in the sixth with a leadoff double, scoring on a Joey Votto single in a two-run inning.
The Phillies put the tying run aboard with one out in the eighth inning of a 4-2 game against Cincinnati reliever Amir Garrett, prompting Riggleman to go to Jared Hughes out of his bullpen. Hughes made quick work of Hoskins, needing just two pitches to induce a ground ball for a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
The Reds added a couple of insurance runs in the eighth on an RBI double by Scooter Gennett and Votto's second RBI single. After logging just three hits in the first eight games of the Reds' homestand, Votto went 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs on Saturday. Hughes got five outs to record his seventh save, including a perfect ninth inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Reds missed some opportunities early in the game, including the pinch-hit situation that led to Harvey's exit. But Cincinnati was able to break through on the third time through the order. Hamilton led the sixth inning off with a double that caromed off a diving Franco at third base and into foul territory. Jose Peraza bunted Hamilton over, and he scored on Votto's single. A fielder's choice from Eugenio Suarez -- whose club-record-tying five-game home run streak came to an end -- brought in another run and gave the Reds a 4-2 lead.
"It almost came back to haunt us, because as soon as we missed those opportunities Hoskins hit the homer to put them ahead," Riggleman said. "But we got back in it with a big hit by Billy. Those two [hits in the eighth inning] were huge too, with the hits by Scooter and Joey."
Harvey's velocity was up from the start on Saturday. His strikeouts of Hoskins and Odubel Herrera in the first inning came on fastballs that clocked in 97.1 and 97.9 mph, respectively. It was the first time Harvey got multiple swinging strikes on 97-plus-mph fastballs since Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, according to Statcast™.
HE SAID IT
"We are playing good baseball. That is a really good team over there in first place. It is a measuring stick for us for where we would like to be at some point. We are playing well, and I hope we keep it going." -- Barnhart
The Reds close out this four-game set with the Phillies and a 10-game homestand when Luis Castillo starts Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET at Great American Ball Park. Castillo made it 5 1/3 innings in his last outing against the Cardinals, letting up a run on four hits with five strikeouts and a walk. The right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in his last four starts, though he is looking for his first win since June 22. Right-hander Zach Eflin will be on the mound for the Phillies.