Monday night appeared to be a mismatch at first with Logan Verrett squaring off against Phillies rookie sensation Vince Velasquez. The contest indeed turned out to be one-sided, but it was Velasquez who ended up on the losing team. Verrett twirled six scoreless innings and the Mets roughed up Velasquez and his fellow Phillies in an 11-1 blowout victory.
The Mets wasted no time getting on the board against Velasquez, fresh off his 16-strikeout masterpiece against the Padres. David Wright smacked a one-out double down the left field line, and Michael Conforto jumped on a bad breaking ball for a two-run blast to right. Velasquez struck out the side, but it didn’t matter; the Mets had the early lead.
Making just his sixth major-league start, Verrett countered with a scoreless inning in the first, though not without an assist from some terrible Phillies baserunning. Odubel Herrera walked with one out and moved to third on Andres Blanco’s single up the middle. However, when the ball reached Wright, Blanco tried to move to second. Wright alertly threw to Lucas Duda at first to catch Blanco in a TOOTBLAN meltdown. Ryan Howard flew out to left, and the threat was over. The Phillies challenged Verrett again in the second on singles by Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp, but he struck out Tyler Goeddel and induced a grounder from Velasquez to end it.
Another Phillies mistake led to more benefits for the Mets in the third. Verrett led off by reaching on an error when Howard couldn’t handle a perfectly catchable Freddy Galvis throw to first. Two batters later, Conforto singled to move the pitcher to third. Still, there were two outs. If Howard had made the catch, the inning very well might have already been over. It wasn’t though, and Yoenis Cespedes obliterated another hanging curve from Velasquez for a three-run homer to left-center, putting the Mets in front 5-0.
The Mets continued to chip away at Velasquez while Verrett threw zeroes on the scoreboard. He helped his own cause with a double to right leading off the fifth and Velasquez did himself no favors by drilling Curtis Granderson. To his credit, he battled to strike out Wright, though Phillies skipper Pete Mackanin decided to give him the early hook. Elvis Araujo entered and worked out of it without allowing the Mets to score by retiring Conforto and Cespedes.
Nonetheless, the Mets certainly had a good night against Velasquez, who only lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (two earned) on five hits. The offense continued to click with Brett Oberholtzer in the game to start the sixth. Neil Walker connected for a solo shot to deep left. The next inning, Oberholtzer issued a two-out walk to Cespedes and then Duda got in on the dinger fun, crushing a two-run homer into the Phillies bullpen.
Walker immediately followed with another homer, and it was 9-0. As beat writer Matt Ehalt noted on Twitter, Walker had just six career homers against southpaws entering 2016. The smash off Oberholtzer was his third lefty-on-lefty homer of the year (and sixth overall). The second baseman has gotten off to a terrific start in Queens, and even though predecessor Daniel Murphy has played well for the Nationals, Walker has more than made up for his offense.
The slugfest continued when Granderson launched a two-run home run in the eighth off James Russell. That pushed the Mets into double digits with an 11-0 lead. It was only the fifth time in franchise history that they ever hit at least six homers in one game. Amusingly, all of the past three occasions have been against the Phillies (August 24, 2015 and April 19, 2005).
To add the cherry on top of the win, Juan Lagares entered as a defensive replacement for Conforto and turned in another unbelievable catch. Rafael Montero allowed the Phillies’ only run of the night on an RBI single by Howard with two outs in the eighth. Franco was up next and launched a towering drive to deep center field that seemed like it would be a three-run homer. Lagares had other plans:
— MLB (@MLB) April 20, 2016
Although Lagares might not see much playing time these days, his defense remains a thrill to behold. Hansel Robles iced the 11-1 victory in the ninth, and the Mets moved to 7-6 on the season. Bartolo Colon will face Jeremy Hellickson tomorrow night at 7:05 as the Mets hope their dinger-happy ways continue.
Photo credit: Bill Streicher – USA Today Sports