Harvey, Satin lead Bisons past 'Pigs

Starter tosses seven shutout frames; like 'mate, goes yard

By Andrew Pentis / Special to MLB.com | April 25, 2012 11:07 AM ET

Since Spring Training, Matt Harvey has told Buffalo roommate and infielder Josh Satin that, for a pitcher, he could swing the bat.

Satin's response: "Yeah, whatever."

This week, after Harvey went 2-for-3 with his first base knocks and RBI as a pro on Friday, he went a step further, promising Satin he would hit at least one home run in 2012.

Satin's response: "Those were nice singles, but whatever."

What will Harvey say -- then do -- next?

The Mets' No. 2 prospect lifted his first career longball -- and, oh by the way, completed seven shutout innings on the mound -- on Wednesday, as he, Satin and the Bisons slugged past the host Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 12-1.

"He crushed it today," Satin, suddenly a believer, admitted. "He's actually got a good swing."

But the 23-year-old right-hander is MLB.com's No. 37 prospect for a reason, and his swing isn't it. Harvey (2-1) was excellent on the mound, retiring the first 12 IronPigs he faced before yielding singles to veterans Hector Luna and Cody Overbeck in the fifth.

"I didn't even realize it until I got back to the dugout," the starter said of his no-hit bid. "I was just going hitter by hitter."

Rich Thompson also singled to start the sixth and advanced to third on Domonic Brown's two-out double but was stranded there. Harvey pitched around second baseman Michael Fisher's throwing error in the seventh, recording his ninth, 10th and 11th groundouts of the game. He also struck out five.

"Matt's got some of the best stuff out there," said Satin, who played first base. "When he's locating his stuff and throwing his breaking ball for a strike, he's almost untouchable. When his fastball is 95 mph, it's not really easy to get good swings on him.

"He's starting to figure out how to pitch at this level, and I think he's going to have a lot of success."

Plagued by walks (11 in his first 19 innings) and leaving his pitches up in the zone (15 runs on 24 hits) entering his fifth start, Harvey's lesson has been two-fold: Throw more strikes and throw them below the batter's waist.

"I was just trying to get head and then let the infield take over," said Harvey, who threw 66 of his 90 pitches Wednesday for strikes. "That's what I've been successful with in the past. They're going to make plays. I'm just letting my sinker work."

What's the key to throwing a good sinker?

"Really getting on top of it," he explained. "Staying back is the biggest thing for me. I wondered early in the season why I was getting so many flyouts. I got my arm up a little higher to get that downhill plane."

With the outing, Harvey's International League ERA tumbled from 6.63 to 5.25. Seven scoreless frames will have that effect. On two occasions in his first pro season in 2011, Harvey did just that: For Class A Advanced St. Lucie on May 27, he held Dunedin to three hits and struck out 10. Then, for Double-A Binghamton on Aug. 22, he held Erie to three hits and fanned five.

Harvey, who at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds also bats right-handed, was as pleased to talk about his hitting prowess. He pulled reliever B.J. Rosenberg's 1-0 fastball in the fifth over the left-field fence, scoring Lucas May and extending the Bisons' lead to 11 runs.

"The guys were giving me some crap, but it was very cool," said Harvey, who also struck out twice in four at-bats. "I was just trying to square the ball up, and I did."

The stroke came with distinction. Prior to this season, no Bisons pitcher had gone yard since 1993. Harvey joined rotation 'mate Dylan Owen, who did the deed in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the IronPigs, as the second hurler to homer this week. Consider, however, that the opportunities aren't as numerous in the International League: Pitchers only bat in games between National League affiliates.

Harvey was coming off his first Triple-A victory against Syracuse on Friday, a game in which he also collected his first base knocks. The next time he steps to the plate, .429 will reside next to his surname on the scoreboard; he's 3-for-7 this season.

Satin, for whom 2012 has been mostly sub-par, would welcome that sight. His 4-for-5 performance raised his batting average 40 points, to .292. His three RBIs gives him nine through 19 games.

"Since the start of the season, I've been struggling," Satin said. "Then, yesterday [Tuesday] something just clicked. I told our hitting coach, 'I got it.'"

What exactly is "it"?

"It's a feel thing," he explained. "If I could describe it, I'd be able to do it for the rest of my life. I took a swing, and [realized] that's where I want to be. I was feeling comfortable."

Batting cleanup, the 27-year-old Satin doubled in the second then smacked a two-run shot, his second of the year, in the third off of veteran IronPigs starter Scott Elarton.

"They've been attacking me inside -- this is the [seventh] time we've played Lehigh Valley -- so I didn't think they knew that I figured something out," Satin said of his home-run at-bat. "So I was looking for a fastball middle-in, and I got it."

Satin also doubled home a run in the fourth and singled in the sixth before striking out looking in the ninth. Was the cycle-completing triple on his mind?

"I actually did it last year," he said. "I'm not really a speed guy, so a triple is rare for me, but it crept into my mind a little bit."

Elarton, 36, allowed nine runs on 10 hits over 3 2/3 frames. Now 1-1 with a 4.12 ERA in his first four outings, Elarton had allowed just one run over his first 16 innings.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow AndrewMiLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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