‘Back in the Saddle,’ Harvey leads Mets past Nationals 6-3

The bats of New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey are labeled "dark knight," in the dugout before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Washington. Harvey will pitch in a major league game for the first time since August 2013, returning from Tommy John surgery. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Matt Harvey was dynamic in his return from Tommy John surgery, outpitching Stephen Strasburg with six scoreless innings, regularly reaching 97 mph and striking out nine to lead the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 6-3 Thursday.

One of the game’s most electrifying young pitchers, the 26-year-old Harvey hadn’t appeared in a regular-season game since Aug. 24, 2013, nearly 20 months ago; he had the ligament-replacement operation on his right elbow that October. For stretches against Washington, it was as if Harvey never left.

The righty powered fastballs by hitters — he struck out Bryce Harper three times swinging at high heat — and mixed in sharp breaking balls in the low 80s. Harvey (1-0) gave up four hits and one walk, throwing 63 of 91 pitches for strikes.

A commanding performance, indeed. Commanding presence, too: In the dugout, the knobs of Harvey’s bats were labeled with his nickname in all caps: “DARK KNIGHT.”

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