By Joe Rini
The New York Mets winning streak reached five games as they topped the Cleveland Guardians 2-1 on Sunday night. Before a nationally televised audience and 29,862 fans at Citi Field, the New York Mets edged the Guardians 2-1 in a battle of former Cy Young award winners. Justin Verlander battled Shane Bieber to a tie until the Mets scratched out the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning to prevail 2-1. Both hurlers pitched eight innings and Brooks Raley pitched a scoreless ninth inning to save the win for Verlander. The win capped a sweep of a day-night doubleheader where the Mets won the opener 5-4.
Verlander Starts Slow then Revs Up
The Guardians threatened the Mets’ winning streak three batters into the game. Jose Ramirez hit a no-doubt home run with two outs that nearly made the flight schedule of nearby LaGuardia Airport as it landed in the upper deck in right field. However, Verlander recovered to retire Josh Naylor for third out and kept the Guardians off the board for the rest of the game. He subsequently scattered two singles over the next seven innings and kept the Guardians at one run. His eight-inning outing was the longest by a Mets pitcher this year and a welcome relief to the Mets’ bullpen. Verlander walked no one and struck out five Guardians in picking up his second win of the season.
Lindor Leads the Way
The Mets evened the score 1-1 when Francisco Lindor led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a home run to left center field. After Verlander left the field to a standing ovation after retiring the Guardians in order in the top of the eighth inning, the Mets rallied. Francisco Alvarez opened the bottom half of the inning by poking an opposite-field single over second baseman Andres Gimenez’s outstretched arms. Starling Marte pinch ran for Alvarez and advanced to third base as Lindor bounced a single to center field with one out. Marte promptly scored as Jeff McNeil sacrificed flied to deep-enough left field and the Mets led 2-1. This Mets’ winning streak featured three come-from-behind wins this weekend.
Mets’ Winning Streak at Five
The victory capped a 5-1 homestand for the Mets and gets them back over .500 at 23-20. After the game, manager Buck Showalter said of Verlander, “He was outstanding…a lot a strike ones. He set the tempo and they had to adjust to him.” Buck said of Verlander after the home run, “He settles in. He doesn’t waver. He’s convicted in what he does and stays with it. He had a lot of pitches working for him tonight.”
LWOS Question to Showalter
After the game, Last Word on Sports asked Showalter about the progress of rookie Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez. The 21-year-old Alvarez caught the victory for Verlander and started the game-winning rally with a single. Showalter said, “He’s doing well. We’re proud of him.” Showalter called him a “sponge” and a “really good listener. Showalter added, “He’s been a tough kid. I love how he absorbs everything and (his) effort and energy has been contagious.” The Mets winning streak will fly out to Chicago with them. They open with three games against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday followed by three games with the Colorado Rockies. Will the Mets win this week?