NEW YORK (AP) Trying to turn around their season before it's too late, the New York Mets received a timely boost from their oldest player Wednesday night - and one of their youngest.
Justin Verlander pitched eight vintage innings and rookie Brett Baty homered during an impressive all-around game as the Mets cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Baty had an RBI groundout during a four-run fourth and turned in a couple of fine defensive plays at third base. Running on a full-count pitch, he also scored from first on Brandon Nimmo's two-out double.
“There's a lot of different facets to the game, so to be able to contribute on all those fronts is really good,” Baty said.
Fellow rookie Francisco Álvarez hit an RBI single in the fourth, and Luis Guillorme added a sacrifice fly. New York (45-50) has won three straight following a four-game skid and is 9-4 in July.
“We’ve been fighting and clawing and doing everything we can. We see the leaderboard. We understand where we’re at. We need to go on a run,” Verlander said. “So hopefully this is the beginning of something special and we can go on a stretch and start playing the baseball that we know we can play. We haven’t done it yet. I think you’ve seen flashes of it at times. We just haven’t really put it together.”
The 40-year-old Verlander (4-5) gave up three hits and threw 76 of 100 pitches for strikes in his 248th win. He struck out seven and walked one.
“I don’t care whether you’re 40, 30 or 20 - when you’re able to keep your pitch count down and get off the field quickly like that, it bodes for a good outing,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner needed only 59 pitches to get through six innings. He permitted just one baserunner - Andrew Benintendi's leadoff single in the fourth - before All-Star slugger Luis Robert Jr. homered with one out in the seventh.
“I think he just pounded the strike zone and got ahead,” Benintendi said. "He just mixes up really well and varies speeds.
“When a guy's got stuff like that, he's hitting his spots and throwing strikes, I mean, there's only so much you can do as a hitter. We didn't catch him on a night where we could do damage.”
It took 30 pitches for Verlander to navigate the seventh, but he breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth and Adam Ottavino tossed a perfect ninth to finish a game that lasted just 2 hours, 6 minutes.
Baty homered to center field off starter Touki Toussaint (0-3) leading off the third. It was the seventh homer this season (all at home) for Baty, who has connected in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
“I'm swinging at the right pitches and hitting the ball hard. So, that's all I'm trying to do up there,” Baty said. “Kind of just slowing everything down. Staying within myself and using the whole field.”
His big game came just four nights after a miserable one, when the 23-year-old Baty committed an embarrassing error on a popup and struck out all three times up in a loss to the Dodgers - including a clutch situation late in the game.
“I try to be the same guy every single day,” Baty said.
Toussaint gave up five runs and four hits in six innings for the White Sox (40-57), who have dropped eight of 11.
White Sox: RHP Liam Hendriks (elbow inflammation) and RHP Mike Clevinger (biceps inflammation) faced hitters from the Citi Field mound in a simulated game. Hendriks threw 17 pitches and Clevinger made 45. ... 1B Andrew Vaughn sat out after fouling a ball off his foot Tuesday night. He was available to pinch hit, manager Pedro Grifol said. ... OF Eloy Jiménez (left groin) sat out again but was available off the bench. He is expected to start Thursday afternoon. Jiménez exited Sunday’s game at Atlanta in the first inning. ... 3B Yoán Moncada (back) could need another four to seven days on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte before returning to the majors, Grifol said.
Mets: RF Starling Marte sat out for the third time in four games because of migraine headaches and vomiting. He saw a specialist in the afternoon and had a scan. “So far, nothing but good news,” Showalter said. “Nothing that I’ve heard that would mean that he wouldn’t be an option in the near future for us.” ... 2B/OF Jeff McNeil (hip) started in right field and was feeling fine, Showalter said.
José Quintana finally makes his Mets debut Thursday against the White Sox, his first major league team. The left-hander has been sidelined all season following rib surgery. He signed a $26 million, two-year contract as a free agent in the offseason. RHP Michael Kopech (3-8, 4.47 ERA) pitches for Chicago.
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