Monday, June 26, 2023

Brewers Can't Get One Off Verlander, But Still Vanquish Mets


Mets pitcher Justin Verlander firing one in to Milwaukee's Christian Yelich in the second inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

Justin Verlander battled his way through five innings, but as soon as he exited, the Milwaukee Brewers got a two-run home run from Joey Wiemer, which was enough to give them a 2-1 win over the Mets at Citi Field on Monday night.

The Mets fall to 35-43 on the season, and their record in June is now 6-16, as they dropped this opener of a four-game series with Milwaukee, who improved to 41-37. This is also the start of a massive (definitely not hyperbole at this point) seven-game homestand, which also includes three against the San Francisco Giants (44-34 through Sunday) over the weekend.

Colin Rea got the start for the Brewers, and he was superb, going 6 1/3 innings, and allowing just one earned run on three hits and a walk, with three strikeouts. He improved to 4-4 on the season and lowered his ERA (earned run average) to 4.57, down from the 4.88 that he entered the game.

Tommy Pham of the Mets grounding out to third base against Milwaukee pitcher Colin Rea in the second inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets did not get a hit until Starling Marte led off the fourth inning with a single. He then stole second base, and that forced Milwaukee catcher William Contreras to throw it wide of the bag and into center field. Marte raced to third, and he practically got a standing ovation for his efforts.

Francisco Lindor then hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field to bring him in and give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee did everything they could against Verlander, but could not break through.

In the first inning, the Mets starter muddled through a 27-pitch inning, in which he allowed a leadoff single to Christian Yelich,a double to Rowdy Tellez, and a walk to Willy Adames. Verlander got out of it by getting Owen Miller to bounce one in front of the front that was fielded by Verlander, who tossed it underhanded to Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez for the force out, and then he got Jesse Winker to bounce to first base to end the long frame.

In the second, Verlander was on his way to a 1-2-3 inning when third baseman Brett Baty fielded a grounder from Wiemer, but he fired a multi-hopper over to first base for an error, conjuring bad memories of his error that opened the floodgates to a Phillies comeback on Sunday. Yelich then walked, but Verlander struck out Contreras for the third out.

Verlander finally got his perfect inning in the third, as he struck out two, but Milwaukee put the pressure on in the fourth. After Winker grounded out to first base, Luis Urias and Blake Perkins singled. With Wiemer at bat, Perkins was leaning off first base, and Alvarez fired one behind him to pick him off for the second out. Wiemer then popped out to shortstop to end the inning.

After the Mets took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, Milwaukee once again had two men on base with nobody out, as Yelich singled and Contreras was hit by a pitch. Verlander got both Tellez and Adames to fly out to right field before striking out Miller to end the inning. By this point, Milwaukee left eight runners on base.

Verlander hit 100 pitches at the conclusion of the fifth, and that was the end of his night, and his final line was: 5 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts.

For the sixth inning, the Mets turned to Drew Smith, who recently returned from his 10-game suspension for a foreign substance on his hand on June 13th against the Yankees.

This was the first time he was on the Citi Field mound since then, and it was a rude return, as Jesse Winker led off with a single, and then after Urias flew out to right field and Perkins struck out, Wiemer crushed one to center field for a two-run homer. 

That was Wiemer's 11th home run of the season, which also gave him 30 RBI, not bad for a player ninth in the Brewers' lineup in this one.

After Rea pitched until there was one out in the seventh inning, the Brewers bullpen was perfect.

Hoby Milner threw 1 1/3 innings, Elvis Peguero got the final out of the eighth, a strikeout of Marte; and Devin Williams ended it by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his 14th save of the season.

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