In his last spring outing before he pitches the second game of the 2021 regular season Saturday at Boston, right-hander Matt Harvey allowed two runs over five innings. He faced the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
It’s the next-to-last game of spring training for the Orioles, who will open the new season Thursday at Boston.
Harvey gave up single runs in the first and second innings.
Bucs Adam Frazier led off the game with a double, improving his average to .571. With two outs and two on, Troy Strokes lined a single to center field for a 1-0 lead. Harvey fanned two in the opening inning.
In the second, Oneil Cruz walked with one out and moved up on a sac bunt by pitcher Mitch Keller. Frazier singled to left to score him for a 2-0 edge and his average increased to .583. Brian Goodwin doubled leading off the third, but Harvey stranded him, putting up his first zero of the afternoon.
Harvey was coming into this game off a strong outing on March 20 versus the New York Yankees. He allowed one run with two strikeouts over four innings.
Keller walked two each in the first and second innings. But the Orioles didn’t score, going 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and stranding all four runners.
The O’s did get on the board in the fourth, cutting their deficit to 2-1. Against lefty Braeden Ogle, Chance Sisco walked with one out and advanced to third on a double by Yusniel Diaz. Sisco scored when Austin Wynns hit a sac fly to left field.
Harvey shut out the Pirates also in the fourth and fifth, pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. So for his day, he allowed five hits and two runs over five innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
“I think the biggest thing is obviously finishing camp healthy and now that I’ve made the team, in the last outing you just want to fine tune some things,” he said via Zoom. “Just really attack people. Upset with the walks, but those are going to happen. I feel like I pounded the zone pretty well. I got ahead of guys and kind of let them back in some at-bats that I’m not really that happy about. But overall when you can go five innings, feel pretty strong through all five, that’s kind of when you know you are ready.
“Each time I pick up a ball, each bullpen, and then each outing just got better and better and more comfortable. Able to trust that and just go out there and pitch. I think coming into camp, obviously knowing I had to make the team, I knew I needed to work every single day and get on board with what they were doing. Which was pretty easy, because they were doing almost exactly what the guys up in New Jersey were showing me and having me do.”
Over his last two spring outings, Harvey gave up three runs in nine innings to the Pirates and Yankees and he finished spring with an ERA of 4.80. Today he joined Jorge López as the only O’s starters to complete five innings. Next stop: Game 2 on Saturday afternoon at Boston.
“Obviously, extremely excited about Game 2. Growing up in Connecticut, it’s not too far from home. So, you know, playing in that ballpark is something special. Obviously excited about that,” he said.
Harvey was asked how this team might do when the season starts.
“It seems like everybody is getting better and better,” he said. “I know with a young team, it’s, you know, the more comfortable you get, the guy’s ability just comes out even more. I’d like to say that I feel like a young guy again obviously having to make the team and be right there with them. It’s fun. It’s going to be an exciting year. Like I said before, we’re not going to put the idea that we’re in a rebuild or young or whatnot. Our job is to go out every time and win a game and see what happens at the end of the year.”
César Valdez came on to start the Pirates sixth and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just a single. He has allowed one run in seven spring innings for an ERA of 1.29.
In the loss column: The Orioles were held to just two hits and lose 2-1. They went 2-for-28 at bat, getting a single from Trey Mancini and Diaz’s double.
The Orioles are 10-16-1 overall, 7-6 at home and went 3-5 this spring versus the Pirates.
In the spring finale on Monday afternoon, the O’s host Tampa Bay and lefty Bruce Zimmermann starts, his final tune-up before his start in the third game of the year at Fenway Park.