Mets takeaways from Sunday’s 2-1 win over Guardians, including Justin Verlander’s dominant eight-inning outing

New York Mets pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers a pitch against the Cleveland Guardians during the first inning at Citi Field.

With a 2-1 win over the Cleveland Guardians at Citi Field Sunday night, the Mets stretched their winning streak to five games and completed a sweep of not only the day-night doubleheader but the three-game series.

Here are some key takeaways…

1) The Mets continue to own the late innings during this winning streak, rallying in the bottom of the eighth to break a 1-1 tie and enable Justin Verlander to earn a win in a great pitchers’ duel with Shane Bieber.

Rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez started the rally with a leadoff single to right. With pinch-runner Starling Marte running on a 0-1 pitch, the Mets were fortunate as Francisco Lindor tried to check his swing on a fastball but wound up punching it through the shortstop hole that was open because Gabriel Arias was moving to cover second base.

That put runners at first and third, and Jeff McNeil promptly delivered a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

2) Verlander bounced back from a rough start against the Tampa Bay Rays last Tuesday to deliver his most dominant start of his four this season, allowing only one run in eight innings — the first Mets’ pitcher to pitch into the eighth this season.

Verlander surrendered only three hits, and only two singles after a first-inning home run by Jose Ramirez. The three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out five and walked none while lowering his ERA this season to 3.60.

Going deep into the game was crucial for the Mets because Buck Showalter was trying to stay away from his key relievers due to their heavy workload of late.

As a result, lefthander Brooks Raley pitched the ninth and earned his first save of the season, getting Ramirez to hit into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

3) Lindor delivered a game-tying home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth against Bieber, a 404-foot shot to center field that had an exit velocity of 100.1mph.

For Lindor, it was only his second home run as a lefthanded hitter this season. He has hit five as a righthanded hitter.

4) McNeil made a baserunning mistake, something that has plagued this team in recent weeks, when he tried to tag up from first base on Pete Alonso’s fly ball to the warning track in left field in the sixth inning.

McNeil was thrown out easily by Steven Kwan for the second out of the inning, and took some pressure off Bieber just as the Mets were starting to get to him. Bieber had given up the home run to Lindor, walked McNeil, and then the fly ball by Alonso.

After the McNeil mistake, Bieber got out of the inning on a lineout to left by Brett Baty.

5) The Mets continue to fall behind early in games, and often in the first inning. After Ramirez took Verlander deep in the top of the first, and the Mets failed to score in their half of the inning, they have been outscored 43-10 in the opening inning this season.

In addition, opponents have scored first in 20 of the Mets’ last 23 games.


What’s next

After a day off on Monday, the Mets open up a three-game series in Chicago against the Cubs.

Kodai Senga (4-2, 3.77 ERA) gets to make his first start at the historic Wrigley Field. The North Siders will send out left-hander Drew Smyly (4-1, 2.86 ERA).

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