Justin Verlander overcame a shaky start in his Mets debut to battle through five innings, allowing two runs on back-to-back solo shots, five hits, and one walk with five strikeouts on 79 pitches. But another empty offensive effort from the Mets saw them swept by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday at Comerica Park in a 2-0 loss.
The Mets (16-16) were swept in a doubleheader on Wednesday, including a down effort from Max Scherzer in his return from a 10-game suspension which offered a glimmer of hope for a struggling team that its broken starting rotation was coming back together.
By being shut down by Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed just two hits across eight scoreless innings with nine strikeouts, New York has now lost nine of its last 11 games. This was also the sixth time this season that the Mets have been shut out already. They weren’t shut out six times until August last year.
Verlander allowed back-to-back home runs to Riley Greene and Javier Baez with one out in the first inning to tarnish the pomp of his first start of the season. Greene’s home run came on the righty’s first breaking ball of the season — a 78-mph curveball on the inner half of the plate that the lefty was able to golf over the right-field fence. Baez, the former Met, then cannoned a 95-mph fastball the other way over the right-center-field fence two pitches later.
He allowed just 12 home runs in 175 innings pitched during his Cy Young Award-winning campaign last season with the Houston Astros.
Tigers batters remained on Verlander early. In his first 1.1 innings pitched, five batters put balls into play that left the bat at 100 mph or greater, but he was able to settle — allowing two hits and a walk over his next three innings.
He worked around a lead-off double in the fifth inning by Andy Ibanez by striking out Jake Rogers — one of the players who was traded by the Astros to the Tigers to get Verlander in 2017 — and Zach McKinstry before getting Greene to ground out to second.
In total, he retired 13 of the final 17 batters he faced.
Verlander received zero support from a Mets offense that has now scored just one run in its last 22 innings. They didn’t have a single baserunner from Starling Marte’s bloop single in the fourth inning as Rodriguez retired 15 straight to end his day, to Brandon Nimmo’s one-out single in the ninth against closer Alex Lang.
Nimmo, however, was caught stealing after a puzzling decision to run for the second out of the final frame before Marte went down swinging to end the nightmare series.