|Isaac Paredes approaching the plate on his first home run of the night in the third inning. Photo by Jason Schott.
The Tampa Bay Rays are spending a week in New York, which began this past weekend with a split against the Yankees and continued on Tuesday night as they opened a three-game set with the Mets at Citi Field in style.
The Rays jumped out to a 6-0 lead against Mets starter Justin Verlander, spoiling his home debut, on their way to an 8-5 victory to improve their Major League-best record to 32-11.
The Mets, who were coming off a road trip in which they lost five of seven games to the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, fell to 20-23 as the difficult start to their season continues.
Verlander, who missed the first five weeks of the season, made his first two starts of the season on the road, as he lost a tough one in his old stomping grounds, Detroit, 2-1 to the Tigers on May 4, before prevailing in Cincinnati last Wednesday in a 2-1 Mets win.
In this start against the Rays, who were familiar with Verlander from all the years he faced them in the American League, they put the pressure on early.
Verlander opened the game by getting two outs recorded by first baseman Pete Alonso, as Harold Ramirez popped one up to him, and then Wander Franco grounded out.
Brandon Lowe then singled and Randy Arozarena walked, and Verlander got Isaac Paredes to bounce out to shortstop to end the inning, and he then worked around a single to Manuel Margot to get out of the second with ease.
|Justin Verlander walking Randy Arozarena in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.
In the third, which began at the top of the Tampa Bay lineup, Ramirez singled and Franco walked before Brandon Lowe (they also have Josh Lowe, so all references will be with first names) struck out and Arozarena popped up behind the plate to catcher Francisco Alvarez.
Just as it looked like he was going to escape trouble again, Paredes lined one to left field that just went above the orange line on the big wall for a three-run home run.
Tampa Bay then added one in the fourth when Christian Bethancourt doubled off the base of the right field fence by the bullpens, and he was singled in by Ramirez to make it 4-0.
In the fifth, Brandon Lowe opened with a double one hop off the bullpen fence, and he was erased in a force out hit into by Arozarena, in which third baseman Brett Baty dove and retired B. Lowe, who was diving back to second.
Then, as the crowd was still buzzing from Baty's superb play, Paredes drilled another one to deep left field for a two-run shot, and that opened up a 6-0 lead for the Rays. That was Paredes' second home run of the night, which gave him five RBI as well. He now has six home runs and 28 RBI on the season.
Verlander finished the fifth, exiting to boos from the Citi Field faithful, and that was all for his night, with his final line: 5 innings, 8 hits, 6 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 3 strikeouts. He fell to 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA (earned run average).
Tampa Bay used an opener, as Jalen Beeks pitched two scoreless innings, as he allowed one hit and no walks, with two strikeouts.
Then, Yonny Chirinos came on in the third, and he went 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk, with two strikeouts. He allowed a solo home run to Brett Baty in the fifth and a two-run shot to Pete Alonso in the seventh. He got the win, as he improved to 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA.