HOUSTON – For the Astros, it was an emotional and necessary return.
For Matt Harvey it was a rough return to the mound.
The Mets righthander could not get into the third inning in his first start since June in the first game back in Houston since the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey devastated the area.
The Astros got to him early and beat the Mets 12-8 at Minute Maid Park, in front of what the team announced was a crowd of 30,319, but looked considerably smaller.
The Mets (58-76) lost their second straight and their fifth of eight on this road trip.
Dominic Smith homered for the Mets, a two-run shot in the fourth inning, Wilmer Flores hit his fourth career grand slam, first since Aug. 26 last year, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit his 11th of the season, a solo shot in the ninth.
They were the first homers the Mets had hit since Sunday night.
Tommy Milone allowed three runs on three hits in 2.2 innings relief. Jacob Rhame, who the Mets acquired in the deal that sent Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers, pitched 1.1 scoreless in his major league debut. Jamie Callahan, part of the Mets return for Addison Reed, gave up two runs on three hits in .2 of an inning.
But clearly the most concerning news Saturday was Harvey, who was coming off the disabled list.
After he hit George Springer to start the bottom of the first, the Astros went off for eight hits against Harvey. He threw two wild pitches and struck out three. He gave up a double to Marwin Gonzalez and a two-run home run to George Springer, his 30th of the season, in the second.
It was the shortest start of his career, worse than the 2 2/3 outing he made May 2016 against the Nationals.
His fastball topped out at 95 miles an hour and sat consistently at 92-93.
The Astros’ squared him up solidly and hit back at the only Harvey they could.
The storm Harvey dropped an historic amount of rain on the area causing catastrophic flooding that contributed to at least 46 deaths in the area. The storm destroyed or damaged 93,942 homes across the region, according to the Texas Division of Emergency Management and there were over 30,000 displaced victims living in shelters across Texas.
The irony of the situation was not lost on Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
“I am sort of weirded out by stuff like that,” Hinch told reporters. “First of all, we play the Mets once in a blue moon. Then on top of that Harvey’s been on the DL and they activate him when September starts. I don’t know. Is there a full moon tonight?
“I don’t know what to think other than we’re going to beat Hurricane Harvey and we’d like to beat Matt Harvey too.”
That they did.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Juan Lagares’ catch of Tony Kemp’s long fly ball, running back to the warning track to get the final out of the third inning.
The Astros four-run, first inning left the Mets behind early and set the tone as they laid a beating on the Mets.
STAR OF THE GAME
Wilmer Flores hit his fourth career grand slam, his first of the season, in the seventh.
The Mets hitters struck out 15 times in Saturday’s opener.
Dominic Smith hit his fourth home run, a two-run shot in the fourth.
Matt Harvey got pummeled in his first start since June, giving up seven runs on eight hits in two innings worked.
Sunday at Houston, 2:10 p.m.; RHP Chris Flexen (3-3, 6.89) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (8-9, 4.55)