Torres fills in for Harvey with blowout support
Recker homers, Murphy tallies four hits as Mets split set with Phillies
By Chris Iseman / 8/29/2013 6:16 PM ET
NEW YORK -- Every fifth day was an event. Matt Harvey's electrifying performances sparked unbridled optimism for the team's future. Then Harvey suffered a partially torn ligament in his right elbow, turning optimism into worry. Somehow the Mets had to proceed without him. Carlos Torres drew a seemingly impossible task.
In his first game as Harvey's replacement in the rotation Thursday, Torres did his best impression of the hard-throwing ace, albeit in a far different fashion. Coupled with an offensive onslaught, the Mets easily beat the Phillies, 11-3, to split the four-game series.
"It was good to have Carlos step up, because we don't know what's going to happen in the next couple weeks," manager Terry Collins said. "Certainly we need starting pitching so I'm glad he did a good job for us."
When Collins took Torres out of the game in the seventh, the right-hander walked off the mound to the type of standing ovation that Harvey became accustomed to. Torres allowed only one run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He didn't walk a batter and struck out six.
"We had two hits going into the seventh," Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg said. "But he was very effective, and in a start like that, he was impressive."
Torres also had the benefit of something Harvey didn't always get: Run support. A lot of it. The Mets' offense erupted for double-digit runs for the first time since July 26.
For a brief stretch, Phillies starter Ethan Martin cruised. The right-hander, making his sixth Major League start, struck out five consecutive batters early in the game.
With one out in the third, Eric Young Jr. snapped that streak with a single to center field. Daniel Murphy, who finished with four hits, then doubled to the gap in right-center field, driving in Young to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
From there, the Mets steamrolled the Phillies' pitchers.
Anthony Recker, who was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday after being optioned on Aug. 20, hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth, and Young's three-run triple in the bottom of the seventh off Justin De Fratus gave the Mets a 10-1 lead to turn the game into a laugher. Andrew Brown added a solo homer in the eighth.
"I felt good up there," said Recker, who celebrated his 30th birthday Thursday. "I've had some at-bats lately, obviously, because I went down, so I had a good at-bat and was able to put a good swing on it."
Philadelphia didn't scratch out a run until the seventh. Torres allowed back-to-back singles to Chase Utley and Domonic Brown. Utley tagged up on a flyout to center by Carlos Ruiz, then scored on Darin Ruf's sacrifice fly.
Roger Bernadina hit two-run home run into the right-field stands off Gonzalez Germen in the eighth, but the game was long out of reach after the way Torres pitched.
"His command was great," Recker said of Torres. "He was keeping the ball down and he was throwing a lot of strikes, and when he did fall behind, he was making good pitches to get guys out -- coming in with that cutter a lot, especially on lefties, getting them to roll over it and get some soft contact."
The Mets recalled Torres from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 15, and he's gone back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation. He pitched well in the Minors, going 6-3 with a 3.89 ERA. For the most part, that success followed him up to the Mets.
In his last start on July 28, he allowed eight runs in three innings. But in 14 relief appearances since then, Torres was 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA.
His changing roles did have an affect on him Thursday. Torres said there were a couple times he actually forgot he could pitch out of the windup with no runners on base instead of the stretch.
"So that was the only real adjustment, other than just pound the zone," Torres said. "As a starter, instead of trying to strike everybody out or trying to refine pitches, you've got to make them hit the ball. And that was the adjustment I've got to make."
While Torres has started this season, he's never done so in Harvey's place. Despite filling the void of one of the best pitchers in the National League, Torres said he doesn't think of his role as a replacement for Harvey.
Especially since that really isn't possible.
"I think of it as, 'I'm just another pitcher,'" Torres said. "There is no replacing Harvey, whatsoever."