Verlander 'phenomenal' as Mets slug trio of HRs

July 2nd, 2023

NEW YORK -- The month of June was a rough one for the Mets, and after going 7-19, New York is hoping July has better things in store. The Mets were able to get off to a good start on the first day of the month by breaking their three-game losing streak in a 4-1 victory over the Giants on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. It helped that right-hander gave the Mets length.

“We got July off to a good start. We’re hoping to build on it,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.    

Verlander was the difference, pitching seven innings, allowing just one unearned run and striking out six batters to pick up his third victory of the season. He looked like the Verlander of old in the first six innings, allowing just three baserunners through his first 18 batters faced.

“Verlander pitched a phenomenal game, and we weren’t able to score runs early on,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “Historically, we do a really nice job in the first couple of innings of games. Right now, we’re just a little short in that regard.”

Verlander said he was working on new mechanics before the game, and throughout his start, he seemed locked in. Throwing free and easy, he felt it was his best game of the season.

“It was much better,” he said. “The slider was the best thing I can take from today. I was a bit more around the zone. It wasn’t perfect, but I was able to make pitches when I needed to. I felt better than last time. … It’s a huge step in the right direction and trying to build off that momentum.”

Verlander’s toughest inning came in the seventh, when he allowed his lone run. With a runner on first, Patrick Bailey hit a ground ball to first baseman Pete Alonso, who threw the ball away trying to get a forceout at second. With runners on first and third, J.D. Davis came home to score the Giants’ only run when Thairo Estrada hit into a double play.

But the inning didn’t end easily. After the double play, Blake Sabol doubled, and Austin Slater walked to put runners on first and second. But Brandon Crawford struck out to end the threat.

The Mets gave Verlander all the run support he needed in the third inning by playing home run derby off Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani. With one out, Francisco Alvarez hit a solo shot over the right-field wall to give New York a 1-0 lead. After Luis Guillorme made the second out of the inning, Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor hit back-to-back home runs. It marked the first time the Mets hit three home runs in an inning since last October 4.

For Nimmo, the home run came on the seventh anniversary of his first career homer against Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel.

“Put a punctuation mark on hitting the hardest homer of my career so far,” said Nimmo, whose knock had an exit velocity of 111.8 mph.

An inning later, Alonso scored the fourth run of the game on a double by Tommy Pham.

“It was huge,” Verlander said. “As a starter, to have those guys put some runs on the board, you can really attack the zone, not really worried about giving up a solo home run and putting your team behind. It felt great.”

The Mets are off to a good start in July, winning the kind of game they were hoping 2023 would bring.

“[Saturday’s game] is how you draw it up,” Nimmo said. “It was a well played game overall. It’s definitely what this team is designed to do, just more of it in the future is what we need.”