Former first-round pick Matt Harvey needed a couple of innings to settle down the nerves in his professional debut. After that, he found his groove and never looked back.
Harvey struck out nine and scattered five hits over five shutout innings Thursday as the St. Lucie Mets opened the season by edging the Palm Beach Cardinals, 1-0.
"It was definitely good to get out there and throw," Harvey said. "I was happy to be wearing a Mets uniform and I was pleased to help my team get a win."
Selected seventh overall in the 2010 Draft, Harvey (1-0) put six men on base in the first two innings of the Florida State League opener. Undeterred, he battled through and posted zeros on the scoreboard.
The 22-year-old right-hander walked two batters and gave up a hit in the opening frame, but he picked leadoff hitter D'Marcus Ingram off second base and escaped the inning unscathed.
The University of North Carolina product ran into more trouble in the second, surrendering consecutive one-out singles to load the bases. But he struck out the next two batters to preserve a 1-0 lead.
Once Harvey found his rhythm, he was comfortable on the mound. He struck out the side in the third and allowed one baserunner over his final three innings of work.
"I had some good adrenaline going," Harvey said, "but I was reaching to the plate too much and I didn't have any life on my fastball. After the first two innings I was able to get the ball down and get my fielders involved."
Harvey said he relied on his slider and curveball more than usual but still approached every at-bat as its own mini-game.
"I just wanted to go out there and work pitch by pitch," he explained. "I knew that if I did that, everything else would take care of itself."
Eric Beaulac followed with two perfect innings and Jeffrey Kaplan completed the shutout.
Harvey and the bullpen outdueled former first-round pick Shelby Miller (0-1), who also fanned nine and allowed an unearned run on four hits and a walk over five innings.
Matt Den Dekker, a 2010 fifth-round pick, had two hits and scored the game's lone run on Stefan Welch's first-inning groundout.