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Was Matt Harvey's Effort the Most Dominant Near-Perfect Game in MLB History?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07:  Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets pitches against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field on May 7, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
J.J. MatthewsContributor IIIMay 8, 2013

There have been some pretty dominant pitching performances over the years.

From shutouts, to no-hitters to perfect games, there have been performances that have truly made us stop and think to ourselves, was this the best ever? After Tuesday night's performance against the Chicago White Sox, Mets pitcher Matt Harvey has put himself in to that conversation.

As a former team mate of Harvey's at Fitch High School in Groton, Connecticut, I, along with the entire area, had the opportunity to see some of the most dominating performances the state of Connecticut had ever seen. But Harvey's performance on Tuesday night makes his dominance as a teenager look like child's play (no pun intended).

The real question now is whether or not Harvey's near-perfection was the most dominating near-perfect game in MLB history? Harvey has his fair share of supporters as made evident by the firestorm that erupted on Twitter after the game:

 

Matt "THE REAL DEAL" Harvey... Enough said! @mets @mattharvey33

— Dwight Gooden (@DocGooden16) May 8, 2013

Gooden has been a big supporter of Harvey's all season, but tonight made just about everyone in the world a true believer of the tremendous talent the right-hander truly has:

Matt Harvey is the best pitcher in baseball right now #justsayin

— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) May 8, 2013

 

Again, most everyone knew about the talent that Harvey had, but where exactly does this rank amongst other near-perfect games? Well, thanks to ESPN and the Elias Sports Bureau  Harvey's game can be measured amongst only two other performances since 1900 where a pitcher went nine or more innings with one or fewer hits and 12 or more strikeouts:

Matt Harvey, Randy Johnson & Nolan Ryan: 9 IP, 1 or fewer hits & 12+ strikeouts with no decision since 1900: twitter.com/BBTN/status/33…

— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) May 8, 2013

 

But there is something that puts Harvey above the two great performances by Ryan and Johnson. The Elias Sports Bureau goes on to point out that Harvey is the only pitcher in the modern era to pitch nine innings with at least 12 strikeouts while allowing no walks and only one hit, only to wind up with a no-decision.

Those names belong to two of the greatest pitchers of all time, so being included in that company alone is a testimony of just how impressive Harvey was on Tuesday. Many will try and site Yu Darvish's performance against the Houston Astros this season as one of the best near-perfect games of all-time, but even Darvish's performance doesn't quite measure up to Harvey's.

Sure, Darvish had more strikeouts than Harvey, but Darvish was facing a Houston Astro's team that may go down as one of the worst teams in MLB history. Secondly, Darvish was up 3-0 in the 7th inning, 5-0 in the 8th inning and 7-0 in the final frame. Finally, Darvish was pulled after giving up a hit in the bottom of the ninth with 111 pitches (78 strikes).

Harvey on the other hand was facing a very dangerous lineup in the Chicago White Sox, and at no point had a lead. Harvey wasn't just trying to make history, he was trying to keep a very silent Mets offense in the game. As for pitch count, Harvey finished with 105 pitches (76 strikes) and was able to finish his ninth inning.

When it comes down to it, Harvey just pitched one of the three greatest near-perfect games in major league history. Sure, he didn't come out with the victory, but that was never part of Harvey's mentality. He has always been team first, and would have been much more upset about losing the game than losing his perfect game.

At this point, all everyone can do is just sit back and think of just how special Harvey's performance was on Tuesday night. There is one person who won't be, however; Matt Harvey. He'll be too busy thinking about how he can be better, and how he can help his team win on Sunday against the Pirates.

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