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Mets takeaways from Tuesday’s 8-5 loss to Rays, including Justin Verlander's Citi Field debut

May 16, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field

The Mets returned home for a three-game set against the Rays as Tampa Bay took the first game of the series, 8-5.

Here are the takeaways...

1. Six weeks into the season, Justin Verlander made his long-awaited Citi Field debut against the winningest team in baseball to start 2023. He quickly retired Harold Ramirez, who popped out to Pete Alonso in foul territory on the first pitch of the game. Verlander also worked around two two-out baserunners when Isaac Paredes bounced into a force out.

In the second, Verlander pumped a 95mph fastball past Josh Lowe for his first strikeout of the evening. While he had success with his fastball at the top of the strike zone, Verlander also drove up his pitch count with multiple three-ball counts and two walks through three innings.

2. The Rays deployed Jalen Beeks as an opener against the Mets lineup. After tossing two scoreless innings, he turned the game over to Yonny Chirinos, who tossed another two shutout frames as the Mets posted just one hit through the first four innings.

New York did get on the board in the fifth inning with Brett Baty’s third home run of the season.

3. Throughout Verlander’s start, Paredes put together quality at-bats and drove the Tampa Bay offense.

In the third, the Rays threatened with two runners on and no one out by way of a Ramirez single and a Wander Franco walk. After nearly escaping trouble by retiring the next two hitters, Paredes launched a hanging breaking ball over the left field fence to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.

The Rays' third baseman took Verlander deep again in the fifth inning with a two-run home run off the left-field foul pole.

4. Josh Walker emerged as the third arm of the evening for his major league debut after being activated following David Peterson being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. The southpaw posted a 0.69 ERA in Triple-A prior to his promotion Tuesday.

After retiring the first two batters in order, Brandon Nimmo hauled in a fly ball on the warning track to strand two more runners.

5. Alonso chipped into the Tampa lead in the seventh inning when he ripped a breaking ball into the second deck for a two-run home run. His 14th home run of the season ties for the major league lead. Eduardo Escobar added a solo shot in the ninth before Tampa Bay closed out an 8-5 win.

Highlights

What's Next

The Mets return to action at Citi Field to continue their three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

Kodai Senga is set to pitch for the Mets. The Rays have yet to announce a starter for Wednesday.