Going into the 2023 season, the Mets planned on winning ballgames with a simple strategy: Hit a lot of home runs and have star pitchers go deep into games. And while that strategy has rarely materialized this season, it was easy to see the winning formula as the Mets cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Giants Saturday afternoon at Citi Field.
Francisco Alvarez opened the scoring for the Mets in the bottom of the third with an opposite-field solo home run against Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani. Brandon Nimmo followed two batters later with a solo home run of his own, his fourth of the homestand and twelfth of the season. Not wanting to be left out of the party, Francisco Lindor made it three home runs in four batters as the Mets swapped three swings for a 3-0 lead in the third.
Tommy Pham, the most standout Met over the past month, continued his hot streak with an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth that scored Pete Alonso from first base. It was Pham’s tenth base hit in sixteen at-bats, and with the double he moved into the top spot on the team in slugging percentage. It was also the Mets’ fourth and final hit of the day, as all four hits scored runs and the offense managed only one other baserunner all game.
The Giants looked to strike back in the top of the fifth after Thairo Estrada’s leadoff single. Blake Sabol’s pop fly in foul territory fell into Brett Baty’s glove for the first out, and the Mets recorded a second out after Estrada overran second base and neglected to re-tag returning to first base after an attempted steal. It was a rare heads-up moment for a Mets defense struggling to return to their elite form, and it helped Mets starter Justin Verlander record his fifth scoreless inning of the day.
After another leadoff single in the top of the seventh, a tailor-made double play grounder went haywire after Alonso’s throw to second sailed into left field, putting runners on first and third with nobody out. The following double play groundout to Lindor redeemed the defense, but at the cost of a run as the Giants cut the lead to 4-1.
In one of his best starts of the year, Verlander struck out six batters and allowed an unearned run in seven innings, and likely could have pitched an eighth had it not been for Alonso’s throwing error. Verlander going deep in the game allowed for the Mets to use their preferred relievers, with Drew Smith and Adam Ottavino sailing through the eighth and the ninth as the Mets go 1-0 for July.
Despite the Mets offense showing very little outside an explosive third inning, the batters provided enough firepower to support Verlander’s strong outing. It was the type of win Mets fans have expected to see much more of throughout the season, and fans can only hope that it’s not too late for this team to turn it around.
David Peterson will pitch tomorrow on Sunday Night Baseball as the Mets look to win their first series in forever.
SB Nation Game Threads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Justin Verlander, +24% WPA
Big Mets loser: Daniel Vogelbach, -9% WPA
Mets pitchers: +30% WPA
Mets hitters: +20% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Francisco Alvarez home run, +13.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Daniel Vogelbach double play, -7.6% WPA