Matt Harvey passed his toughest test of the season to date on Friday

Matt Harvey 1 polaroidIn last night’s 7-1 win over the Nationals, Matt Harvey allowed one run on four hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

Harvey threw 105 pitches, 68 of which were strikes. However, Harvey threw 33 of his 43 fastballs for strikes and got nine swings and misses of that pitch and averaged over 97 mph with his fastball.

“I’m going to take the 24-hour rule and definitely be happy about this start and this win,” Harvey said. “And after it’s over, tomorrow, it’s time to work hard and get prepared for the next start.”

Harvey has allowed just three hits in 31 at-bats with runners on-base this season.

Harvey worked out of a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the seventh inning, allowing only one run and inducing a strikeout, popup, and ground ball to limit the damage.

“There were some very high-pressure situations and pitches I made him throw that were off-speed pitches,” Buck said. “So if he gets amped up or overthrows it at all, we don’t get the groundball, we don’t get the pop-up. He doesn’t get that stuff. To me that’s impressive. They were touch-and-feel pitches in very high and tense situations. For a young guy to be able to do that is very impressive.”

Harvey now has 102 strikeouts in 14 career games. The only other Mets with more strikeouts in their first 14 career games were Dwight Gooden (107) and Nolan Ryan (103).

“I think I learned from tonight’s start. I came out the first inning a little bit too pumped up,” Harvey said. “As the start went on I could feel my body starting to get a little tired. That was really my first big Friday night, I guess you could say.”

Michael Baron, Contributor

Harvey did not have very good command of his secondary pitches last night. But, he had phenomenal command of his fastball, and had outstanding velocity and movement to go with it. If he can command that pitch on both sides of the plate between 95-98 mph, he can afford to have an off-night with his secondary pitches.

Of all the magical things Harvey has done so far this year, the seventh inning of last night’s game was by far the most impressive performance he’s put on. He showed exactly the kind of player he is, and gave fans every reason to want that guy on the mound in a must-win situation. He began to show signs of fatigue: his ball started to creep up in the zone and his velocity became a little more inconsistent, and Harvey allowed a run before loading the bases with nobody out. But he showed no fear, maintained his focus, and got out of the jam – seemingly with ease – without allowing another run. It was his first real challenge this season, and he got through it like a pitcher who has been through a pressure-packed situation a million times. I said last night he is a relentless bulldog out there – he has this commanding presence on the mound now, and he seemed to thrive off the pressure he was in during the seventh inning. The prospects of having this kind of presence in a playoff situation is impossible to resist.

At this point, when Harvey pitches, I expect him and the team to win. For a guy with 14 starts under his belt, that might not be fair, but I think it’s totally awesome. I mean, he has been awesome, and has earned the expectations which now follow him. Last night, he rode the energy of the crowd at Citi Field, who just seemed captivated by his presence on the mound and what he did for seven innings last night. He is this era’s Dwight Gooden – such talent and such excitement comes along once in a generation, and the Mets have that once again with Harvey.