|Chris Bassitt rears back and fires one to Pete Alonso in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Chris Bassitt returned to Citi Field in style on Friday night, as he took a shutout into the eighth inning, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a 3-0 win over the Mets.
Bassitt, who won 15 games for the Mets last season in his lone year in New York, but in what is still a surprise, the Mets did not offer him a contract, and he signed a three-year, $63 million contract with Toronto in the offseason. He entered this one with a 5-4 record and a 3.80 earned run average (ERA), with recent shutouts of the Atlanta Braves and Yankees.
Mets Manager Buck Showalter was asked about facing Bassitt in his pregame press conference on Friday afternoon, “Yeah, he’s good! Really good and he’s got the kitchen sink, and the only thing that’s changed, he’s kind of calling his own game now with the pitch clock, and he’s a very athletic guy that adjusts to what things are. I think everybody knew he would adjust to the pitch clock. The biggest adjustment is he’s good. He’s got a lot of ways to get you out, and you’re going to have to have a well-pitched hand and whatever opportunities you get against him, you better cash in on it. He’s a very competitive guy, and probably be a lot easier if we didn’t know him as well as we do. He’s good.”
George Springer wasted no time staking Bassitt out to a lead, as he blasted the second pitch from Mets starter Justin Verlander for a solo home run into the black in center field.
In the bottom of the first, Jeff McNeil tried to ignite a rally as he hit one deep into the right field gap that he legged out for a double with two outs, but Pete Alonso popped up to first base to end the inning.
Bassitt then struck out the side in the second before he ran into trouble in the third.
Mark Canha, who had two home runs and six RBI in the final two games of their sweep over the Phillies, singled and then stole second base.
|Mark Canha breaking for second base with Francisco Alvarez up. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Francisco Alvarez then grounded one to first base, but it kicked off Vladimir Guerrero's glove, and Bassitt raced over, and Alvarez beat him out to give the Mets runners at first and third with nobody out.
The top of the order was up for the Mets, but Bassitt beared down and got Brandon Nimmo to pop out to third base, struck out Francisco Lindor looking, and got McNeil to also pop out to third.
That began a stretch in which Bassitt retired 14 straight until Starling Marte singled with two outs in the seventh inning with it still a 1-0 Toronto lead. Marte then stole second base, giving the Mets the tying run in scoring position. Mark Vientos grounded out to end the frame.
To backtrack a little, after the home run, Verlander was superb, as he went six innings, and allowed just that one run, the home run to his old Houston Astros teammate Springer; on five hits and three walks, with eight strikeouts. He was the hard-luck loser, falling to 2-3 on the season with a 4.25 ERA.
|Justin Verlander firing one past Bo Bichette in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Bassitt got the first two outs of the eighth inning before Tim Mayza struck out Nimmo.
The final line for Bassitt was: 7 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts, and he is now 6-4 with a 3.41 ERA. It was his fourth start with seven-plus shutout innings, tied with Detroit’s Eduardo Rodriguez for most in the Major Leagues. His .198 opponents’ batting average is third-best in the American League, 6th-most in MLB.
Toronto tacked on a couple in the ninth against Mets reliever Jeff Brigham, as Whit Merrifield singled with one out before Daulton Varsho blasted a two-run homer.
This breaks the Mets’ eight-game winning streak at Citi Field and they fell to 30-28. They remain 3 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, as the Braves fell in Arizona, 3-2. Toronto improved to 31-27, a full game ahead of the idle Boston Red Sox for fourth place in the American League East.