Justin Verlander gives up 2 HRs in Tigers’ 2-0 win over Mets

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DETROIT – Justin Verlander grabbed the bill of his cap two times as he faced home plate, acknowledging a warm welcome from fans in Detroit, then had to whip his head around twice toward the outfield as the Tigers sent pitches over the right-field wall.

Verlander gave up back-to-back home runs in his New York Mets debut and Eduardo Rodriguez threw eight scoreless innings and the Detroit Tigers completed a three-game sweep with a 2-0 win Thursday.

In the end, though, Verlander appreciated the crowd’s collective gesture at the start of his outing.

“Any athlete in any situation, when they gave that much to an organization and that much of their career somewhere, it’s nice to hear the ovation, hear the applause,” said Verlander, who was drafted by the Tigers in 2004 and traded by them to Houston in 2017. “That’s a fan’s way of saying thank you. Of course, it means a lot.”

Riley Greene and Javier Baez hit solo homers off Verlander in the first inning and that was enough offense for the Tigers, who had 18,369 fans in the stands for their biggest crowd in nearly a month.

“He’s really good at what he does and he’s been doing it for a long time now,” Greene said. “When there’s a big crowd, we feed off it. We look up and we’re like, ‘Yeah, let’s go,’ and we give it 1% more.”

Rodriguez (3-2) gave up just two hits and one walk while striking out nine. Alex Lange pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

Verlander (0-1) settled in after his rough start, showing signs of the form that led to him winning the Cy Young Award last year for the third time and helping the Astros win the World Series for a second time.

The 40-year-old right-hander gave up two runs and five hits and a walk while striking out five in his 79-pitch outing. He started the season on the injured list with a muscle strain in his upper back.

Jeff Brigham, Dominic Leone and Drew Smith combined to throw three innings of scoreless relief, but the slumping Mets could not take advantage of their good pitching or opportunities on the base paths and were shut out for the sixth time this season.

Brandon Nimmo singled off Lange with one out in the ninth inning and was thrown out trying to steal second, a questionable decision down two runs.

Starling Marte struck out moments later to end the game.

Nimmo said the decision to go was his alone.

“That isn’t what beat us,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “What did we hit, one ball hard all day? So that’s the thing that I dwell on.”

Tommy Pham, one of three Mets to have one hit, was caught stealing by catcher Jake Rogers in the second inning.

“In a close game, those plays matter so much,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “We didn’t allow them to create any momentum.”

New York has lost nine of its last 11 games, falling to .500 after winning 14 of the first 21 games.

Detroit has won three straight and is 13-17, bouncing back from a 2-9 start.


Rodriguez has given up a total of two runs over his past five starts, looking like the pitcher Detroit signed to a $77 million, five-year deal and not the one whose debut season with the franchise was affected by personal matters that put him on the restricted list.

“These guys are people first and when things are settled at home, I see a different version of these guys,” Hinch said.


Miguel Cabrera is expected to return to Detroit’s lineup on Friday night in St. Louis after missing four games with an illness.


The Tigers start a six-game road trip Friday night at St. Louis where Detroit LHP Matthew Boyd (1-2) and Cardinals LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-4) are the probable pitchers.

The Mets return home to face Colorado on Friday night when New York will hope RHP Kodai Senga (3-1) can snap its slump against Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (0-0).

Nationals blow 6-run lead, rebound to beat Phillies 8-7

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WASHINGTON (AP) Lane Thomas singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals sent the Philadelphia Phillies to their fifth straight loss, winning 8-7 after blowing a six-run lead.

The defending NL champion Phillies have just five victories in their last 18 games and are tied with the Nationals at the bottom of the NL East at 25-32.

“We’ve got to overcome it,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got to play better, get consistent in all phases and keep moving forward.”

Alex Call drew a two-out walk against Connor Brogdon (2-1) in the eighth, stole second on a low pitch that catcher JT Realmuto couldn’t make a throw on and scored on Thomas’ single to right center.

“The way Lane’s swinging the bat, if you can get on second base, we can win the game,” Call said. “I look over and the ball’s in the dirt, he doesn’t catch it. Now I’m saying: ‘All right, Lane. Come on!’”

Kyle Finnegan (3-2) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the victory, stranding the tying run on second in the ninth.

Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, doubled and drove in five runs for Philadelphia, which had scored just three runs in its past three games.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives as a group,” Castellanos said. “Showing some fight. It would have been really, really easy to lay down and allow the way the game started to be the way that it finished.”

Down 7-1 after four innings, Philadelphia tied it at 7 in the eighth. Brandon Marsh worked a nine-pitch walk against Mason Thompson leading off, and Drew Ellis singled with one out. Finnegan came on to face Kyle Schwarber, who hit a ground ball up the middle. Shortstop CJ Abrams fielded it behind it behind second base, touched second for one out, but threw wildly to first and Marsh came home with the tying run.

Castellanos’s second homer, a two-run shot to center in the sixth, pulled the Phillies to 7-3 and Marsh added an RBI single in the inning.

In the seventh, Schwarber doubled with one out and Bryson Scott reached on an infield single. Hunter Harvey came on and walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Castellanos singled to center scoring two runs to make it 7-6.

Luis Garcia homered and Jeimer Candelario doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Nationals, who have won seven of 12.

Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, coming off eight shutout innings against Atlanta, allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

“This one’s on me really,” Wheeler said. “Guys battled back. Just couldn’t finish it out. We know who we have in this room and what we’ve got to do.”

Josiah Gray gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings for Washington.

Candelario doubled just beyond the reach of left fielder Schwarber to drive in the first of Washington’s two runs in the first.

In the second, Abrams hit a one-out drive to deep center that Marsh misplayed into a double. With two outs and two on, Candelario doubled off the wall in right center to make it 5-0.

Garcia ended Wheeler’s night with a solo homer in the fourth.

“When you come out the way we did, you’ve got to tack on,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It didn’t happen tonight, but we got one more than the other guys.”


Candelario is 9 for 26 (.346) with four doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, five walks, and seven runs scored in his last seven games.


Phillies: Thomson said RHP Taijuan Walker played catch Friday and there are “no worries about his next start.” In a four-inning outing against the Mets on Thursday, Walker’s sinker velocity averaged 90.6 mph, down from 92.7 mph for the season. His fastball, splitter and curveball velocity also dropped.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles (back spasms) took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the injured list. … LHP Sean Doolittle (elbow) gave up a run on two hits and struck out two batters in 2/3 of an inning working his second straight night for Class A Fredericksburg.


Phillies: LHP Matt Strahm (4-3, 3.20) will start a bullpen game on Saturday.

Nationals: LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-3, 3.57) went seven innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters in his previous outing – a no decision against the Royals.

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