SAN FRANCISCO – Under the scrutiny of a larger-than-normal media throng, bolstered by those in town covering the New York Mets, Bruce Bochy showed a good poker face Monday afternoon.
As the National League manager in next week's All-Star Game, Bochy has a decision to make regarding his starting pitcher – in fact, it appears he already may have made it. But he wasn't tipping his hand, even with a leading candidate for the honor about to take the mound at AT&T Park.
Bochy, who a day earlier had seen another candidate in the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw stymie his offense from the same mound, insisted the Mets' Matt Harvey was not auditioning for the All-Star start in Monday night's series opener against the Giants. Tim Lincecum then went out and wrested away the spotlight with a season-high 11 strikeouts, but neither starter factored into the decision.
Both departed after seven innings, having allowed three runs on six hits, turning things over to the bullpens in a game that remained tied 3-3 in the 12th inning at press time.
Harvey, the hard-throwing right-hander, entered Monday with the third-lowest ERA in baseball and the second-most strikeouts, a breakout player in his first full season in the majors whose relatively low win total (7-2 record) is due partly to spotty run support.
Four batters in Monday, though, the Giants had a 2-0 lead against him after Buster Posey turned on a 3-1 fastball for his 13th home run. Harvey allowed two more hits over the next five innings – both to Posey, who had been 2 for 18 in his previous six games.
Lincecum, meanwhile, held the Mets hitless for four innings while recording double-digit strikeouts for the first time since last July. But the Mets scored once in the fifth on a John Buck RBI double and took the lead in the sixth with Lincecum getting little help from his defense.
Eric Young tripled and scored on Daniel Murphy's liner to left that Andres Torres could not glove on a slide. An infield single and errant throw by Marco Scutaro sent Murphy to third, and he scored the go-ahead run when Ike Davis grounded into a double play.
Harvey came back out for the seventh at 107 pitches. His 108th and 109th became a triple by Hunter Pence – who snapped an 0-for-24 skid – and a Brandon Crawford RBI single, and Harvey accepted his 10th no-decision this season in 19 starts.
Before the game, regarding the All-Star assignment, Bochy said he already has a good idea of "which way I'm leaning," and that he's well aware the game is being played in Harvey's home park, New York's Citi Field.
"He's having a special year, and I know he's from New York," Bochy said. "All that's been discussed. I'll just leave it at that."
Harvey's second big-league start – and first loss – came against the Giants last year in a 4-1 game in which he allowed three runs, and Bochy said that while the potential was evident then, Harvey is a different pitcher now, with a "sense of belonging" that often comes with experience.
"He has the great fastball, but there's other pitches he throws, too, and he's commanding them," Bochy said. "You get special arms that come around like this every so often, and he's emerged as one of the best pitchers in the game."
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, bumped up to the third spot in the order for the first time Monday, said before the game he recalled Harvey being "one of those guys that can get away with throwing pitches over the plate just because his stuff's so good."
"His fastball has good life on it; it's tough to time," said Belt, who flew out twice and struck out in three at-bats against Harvey on Monday. "His breaking stuff is hard. Everything he throws is hard."
As for whether it should be Harvey throwing the first pitch in New York next Tuesday, Belt didn't sound envious of his manager's position. "That'd be a tough call," Belt said. "I might be a little biased towards Kershaw, just because I've seen him more. But as an observer, they're both good. I don't think you can go wrong starting either one."
Arias to DL – The Giants on Monday placed infielder Joaquin Arias on the 15-day disabled list with appendicitis and recalled Nick Noonan from Triple-A Fresno. Bochy said Arias, who had an appendectomy Sunday night, likely will be out two to three weeks.
BOX SCORE: To view the Giants - Mets game summary ...click here.