A whole lot went wrong for the New York Mets during what seemed to be a much-needed get-right stretch
Now the Mets have to try to begin getting right against the best team in baseball
New York will try to break out of an extended malaise Tuesday night, when it returns home to host the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game interleague series
Right-hander Justin Verlander (1-1, 2.25 ERA) is slated to make his home debut for the Mets. Left-hander Jalen Beeks (1-2, 5.40) will serve as an opener for the Rays
The Mets ended a frustrating road trip Monday afternoon, when they fell 10-3 to the Washington Nationals. The Rays, in the midst of a seven-game swing through New York, were off Monday after edging the Yankees 8-7 on Sunday to salvage a split of a four-game series
The loss to the Nationals provided an appropriate conclusion to a 13-game stretch for the Mets in which they went 4-9 against a quartet of sub-.500 teams. Prior to splitting the four-game wraparound series with Washington, New York was swept by the Detroit Tigers and lost two of three against the Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds
There's no shortage of reasons why the Mets are now under .500 themselves at 20-22 and closer to last place (1 1/2 games ahead of the Nationals) than first place (6 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves) in the National League East
The Mets were outscored 64-39 over the previous 13 games, during which they hit just 10 homers. New York starting pitchers have pitched more than five innings just twice during that span
"I don't (pin) something on one phase of the game, but I think it falls underneath the obvious to know that good teams need to get deeper into games with your starters," Mets manager Buck Showalter said. "And it's been a challenge for us this year so far.
No team has been as complete as the Rays, who have the best record in the majors at 31-11 while possessing the best batting average (.275) and second-lowest team ERA (3.26) in the game
But Tampa Bay will be looking to snap its first mini-slump as it moves from the Bronx to Queens. The Rays are 3-4 on a season-long 10-game road trip and gave up 22 runs in the last three games against the Yankees -- as many runs as they surrendered in the seven games prior to last Friday
The Rays, who squandered a one-run, eighth-inning lead in Friday's 6-5 loss and frittered away a six-run lead in Saturday's 9-8 defeat, endangered their chances at securing the split late Sunday. The Yankees cut into an 8-4 deficit on an RBI single by Aaron Judge in the seventh and a two-run homer by Anthony Volpe in the eighth before Judge flew out to the warning track in center field for the final out against Jason Adam
"Thankfully he missed it more than I thought," Adam said. "To come in down 2-1 in the series and win this game was huge."
Verlander, who missed the first five weeks of the season with a teres major strain, earned his first win with the Mets last Wednesday, when he gave up one run over seven innings as New York edged the Reds, 2-1
Beeks last pitched Saturday, when he tossed two scoreless innings of relief. He will likely be followed Tuesday by right-hander Yonny Chirinos.
--Field Level Media