Matt Harvey turns in sound performance in Orioles debut, a 4-2 win over Red Sox

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Jon Meoli, The Baltimore Sun
·3 min read
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Matt Harvey’s Orioles debut showed that he’s no longer the fire-breathing, bat-missing ace of yore but instead a pitcher who fits in with his new club. He certainly was better than he was the past two seasons, and maybe even good enough to surprise this season.

Harvey pitched well early before some bad luck shortened his day, and a scrappy Orioles offense did enough off impressive Red Sox rookie Tanner Houck to earn a 4-2 win Saturday at Fenway Park.

Veteran closer César Valdez endured a rocky ninth inning to get there, but with a second straight win to start the season, the Orioles (2-0) have a chance for a season-opening sweep.

Harvey, 32, came to the Orioles in February as the latest stop on his journey to replicate his prior success with the New York Mets, and cited the team’s data-driven pitching program as a way to resurrect his career.

There wasn’t much new-school nuance to what he did early Saturday. Harvey mixed his pitches well, made sure his misses weren’t over the heart of the plate, and worked the edges in sync with catcher Pedro Severino to great effect.

Still, there was traffic. He worked around a two-out double that left fielder Austin Hays lost in the sun in the first inning, and stranded a runner at second in the second as well.

Considering the Red Sox put runners on second and third with one out in the fourth inning, their one run that frame was a success. But in Harvey’s fifth and final inning, what could have been the final out of the inning on a comebacker instead bounced off his leg into an unoccupied part of the infield, allowing Kevin Plawecki to score from second base.

Harvey left having allowed two earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings, with his fastball averaging 92.9 mph.

Newcomer Adam Plutko finished Harvey’s fifth inning and added a scoreless sixth and seventh before passing the game off to Dillon Tate, who set the Red Sox down in order on 11 pitches in the eighth inning.

How they scored

Houck kept the Orioles largely off balance early, but they broke through in the fourth inning, bit by bit.

Rio Ruiz earned a two-out walk and went to third on an errant throw on an Austin Hays infield single. Hays advanced to second on a passed ball and scored when Maikel Franco singled off Houck to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

Boston halved it in the bottom of the inning, but Pedro Severino doubled and scored on an infield single by Anthony Santander in the fifth inning to make it 3-1 Orioles.

In the seventh inning, Freddy Galvis singled, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a single by Cedric Mullins, and scored when Trey Mancini lined out to right field.

Pleasant debut for Plutko

Plutko, acquired from Cleveland a week ago to add to the Orioles’ bulk pitching depth, did just that in his debut with the club Saturday.

The 29-year-old right-hander recorded seven outs while allowing just one single and did so efficiently, needing just 33 pitches.