The 52nd Harvey Day will be unlike any before it.
Matt Harvey is scheduled to make his first start as a visitor in the park he used to call home Wednesday afternoon, when he takes the mound for the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of a two-game interleague series against the New York Mets.
Harvey (3-2, 3.60 ERA) is slated to oppose Taijuan Walker (2-1, 2.38 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.
The Mets extended their winning streak to six games in unusual fashion Tuesday night, when third-string rookie catcher Patrick Mazeika capped a two-run ninth inning with his second walk-off RBI of the homestand as New York earned a 3-2 win.
Jonathan Villar raced home from third and slid in head of the tag on Mazeika's one-out grounder to first. Mazeika's dribbler in front of the mound scored Pete Alonso with the winning run Friday in New York's 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Mazeika's path to the Big Apple stage -- he's a 27-year-old who was selected by the Mets in the eighth round of the 2015 draft and hadn't played above Double-A before this season -- could not be any more different than the one Harvey blazed beginning in 2010, when he was drafted by New York in the first round.
Harvey's home starts became calendar-circling events in 2013, when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, flirted with a perfect game against the Chicago White Sox and started for the National League in the All-Star Game at Citi Field before sustaining an elbow injury in August that required Tommy John surgery.
Harvey returned in 2015 and went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA before starting the opening games of the NL Championship Series and World Series for the Mets.
"I just remember when Matt came out of the bullpen before first pitch," said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, who was the first base coach for the Chicago Cubs when the Mets swept them in the NLCS. "Probably one of the loudest stadiums I've heard."
The Citi Field crowd was even louder 15 days later, when Harvey stalked to the mound with a two-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. However, the Kansas City Royals tied the game against Harvey and Jeurys Familia en route to clinching the championship with a 7-2, 12-inning win.
Since that night, Harvey has gone 22-36 with a 5.64 ERA while battling shoulder woes and undergoing surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome. The Mets traded Harvey to the Reds in May 2018, and he's played for three other teams since.
Harvey made the Orioles as a non-roster invitee and has begun remaking himself as a pitcher relying more on a sinker as opposed to the mid- to high-90s heat he displayed in New York.
While he's yet to throw more than six innings or 90 pitches in a start, Harvey has allowed two earned runs or fewer five times in seven starts. He took the loss in his most recent outing last Friday, when he gave up four runs, all unearned, over four innings as Baltimore fell to the Boston Red Sox 6-2.
"He's had a really nice start to the year and he's been building on it," Hyde said. "I know he's in a good place right now."
Walker earned the win last Thursday, when he allowed an unearned run on just one hit and retired the final 18 batters he faced as the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1. He is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six career starts against the Orioles.
--Field Level Media