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Harvey's fastball impresses in Royals debut

@FlannyMLB
August 19, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- In Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium, Royals right-hander Brad Keller dominated the Reds, holding them to three singles in a shutout victory. In Game 2, right-hander Trevor Bauer and the Reds returned serve in impressive fashion. Bauer went all seven innings and gave up

KANSAS CITY -- In Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium, Royals right-hander Brad Keller dominated the Reds, holding them to three singles in a shutout victory.

In Game 2, right-hander Trevor Bauer and the Reds returned serve in impressive fashion. Bauer went all seven innings and gave up just one hit and three walks in a 5-0 victory. Bauer struck out nine.

Box score

Royals manager Mike Matheny wasn’t in the right mood to tip his cap to the other side.

“We lost,” Matheny said. “I’m not a good cap-tipper.”

The only hit came from Adalberto Mondesi, a solid single to right with two outs in the fifth inning. That was it.

All of that overshadowed right-hander Matt Harvey’s debut with the Royals. Harvey was impressive through 2 2/3 innings giving up a hit and a walk while striking out four.

“I was really impressed,” Matheny said. “Better than what I expected from watching the video of him. Seeing it live, the ball was jumping out of his hand. I thought the breaking ball looked good.

“I thought it was a good representation of where this might go.”

Harvey’s fastball topped at 95 mph and his slider bit hard at 87 mph. He made two noticeable mistakes on breaking balls, and both were hit for home runs.

“I don’t know if Matt realizes how good his fastball is right now,” Matheny said. “Hitters need to see how good that fastball is, and then his breaking stuff will be that much better.”

Harvey, 31, suddenly lost his command with two outs and none on in the third. First, Nick Castellanos lined a hard single.

Then Jesse Winker, who struck out looking on a slider in the first inning and proceeded to give Harvey a thumbs up, jumped on a first-pitch curveball that was down and in -- quite often a left-handed hitter’s nitro zone.

Moments later, Eugenio Suárez launched an 0-1 slider over the center-field wall for a home run, and it was 3-0. Harvey escaped further damage.

“I really thought Jesse would take that first pitch,” Harvey said. “I didn’t really get after it as much as -- looking back on it -- I’d have liked to. I’m kicking myself for that. That’s exactly where you don’t want to miss to a lefty, that down and in where they can do a lot of damage.”

Harvey threw 54 pitches, 33 for strikes. Thirty of his pitches were four-seam fastballs that appeared to show late life -- he got 10 swings-and-misses or called strikes.

“The fastball has been coming out pretty good at the alternate site,” Harvey said. “I spent a lot of time trying to throw that down in the zone. I was working the corners pretty well. I was pretty happy with that. It’s in there.”

All in all, Harvey was just glad to get that first one under the belt.

“It was kind of a surreal moment,” Harvey said. “A lot of different nerves that I haven’t felt in a while. In my mind it was just two bad pitches that home run hitters are not going to miss. I think fine-tuning the offspeed is the next thing to come.”

Meanwhile, Bauer overmatched the Royals, retiring the first nine hitters he faced, five on strikeouts.

The Royals had a great chance to score in the fourth. Whit Merrifield led off with a walk, and stole second with none out. After Nicky Lopez struck out, Merrifield stole third. But Hunter Dozier struck out, Jorge Soler walked, and Ryan O’Hearn flied out.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.