NEW YORK (AP) — It seems nobody can slow down the Tampa Bay Rays these days — or get the New York Mets going, for that matter.
Not even Justin Verlander.
Isaac Paredes homered twice and drove in five runs, ruining Verlander’s home debut for New York as the Rays rolled to an 8-5 victory Tuesday night.
“It was a great day, especially Verlander being such a great pitcher,” Paredes said through a translator. “We have a lot of good players. It doesn’t surprise me that we’re hitting them out.”
Yonny Chirinos (2-1) got 14 outs after opener Jalen Beeks tossed two scoreless innings. Jose Siri also went deep and Harold Ramírez had two RBI singles among his three hits for the Rays, who improved the best record in baseball to 32-11.
That’s the most wins after 43 games for any club since the 2001 Seattle Mariners also had 32.
“This team feels special,” Beeks said. “Everybody’s excited.”
New York trailed 6-0 before Brett Baty homered and Pete Alonso launched a two-run shot. Pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar connected for a two-run homer in the ninth off Jake Diekman.
The 40-year-old Verlander (1-2) served up both long balls to Paredes and was tagged for six runs on eight hits over five innings in his third start for the staggering Mets (20-23).
“I expect to be better. I think this entire organization expects to be better,” Verlander said. “I was hoping that today I could be a catalyst.”
After signing with the Mets as a free agent in December, the three-time Cy Young Award winner was originally scheduled to start the home opener in early April but began the season on the injured list with a strained muscle in his upper back. He returned May 4 and made his first two starts for New York on the road.
“He’s still in April with his season. Coming off a good outing. He’s going to be fine,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s a good team that has done well against some good pitchers like Justin. I’ll take my chances with him every time, obviously.”
Verlander was one pitch from wriggling out of trouble in the third when Paredes socked a 3-2 curve over the left-field fence for a three-run homer with two outs. Ramírez led off the inning with an infield single, followed by a walk to Wander Franco.
Brandon Lowe doubled to start the fifth and, one out later, Paredes hit a two-run drive off the left-field foul pole — drawing boos from a restless crowd of 28,296.
“Off the bat, I thought it was foul,” Paredes said.
With a major league-record $355 million payroll, New York fell to 6-16 since a 14-7 start and dropped three games below .500 for the first time since finishing 77-85 in 2021.
By contrast, Tampa Bay’s $75 million payroll on opening day ranked 27th among the 30 clubs.
“At least we scored five runs, so hopefully we’ll take that positive and see if we can keep that going,” Showalter said. “We’ll pitch better than that most nights.”
Rays: 1B Yandy Díaz sat out after leaving Sunday’s win at Yankee Stadium in the first inning with left groin tightness. Results of an MRI were encouraging, and the team hopes Díaz can return to action within the next few days. Ramírez replaced Díaz at first base and in the leadoff spot. … RHP Tyler Glasnow (left oblique strain) struck out nine in four shutout innings of three-hit ball during a rehab outing for Triple-A Durham against Nashville. RHP Shawn Armstrong (neck tightness) worked a hitless fifth in the same game, his first rehab appearance.
Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco is expected to come off the injured list and start Friday night against Cleveland, his former team. Carrasco (0-2, 8.56 ERA) has been sidelined since April 16 with right elbow inflammation and a bone spur. … C Omar Narváez (left calf strain) is on target to begin playing minor league rehab games at the end of next week. … RHP Jimmy Yacabonis (strained left quadriceps) was sent on a rehab assignment with Double-A Binghamton.
The home runs by Paredes and Siri gave the Rays 11 players with at least five this year. They are the only team in major league history to have 10 players with five homers less than 50 games into a season.
“It’s pretty cool to watch. You feel like every game we’re going to hit three or four home runs,” Beeks said.
Mets rookie Kodai Senga (4-2, 4.14 ERA) is scheduled to start the middle game of the series Wednesday night. LHP Josh Fleming (0-0, 4.26) goes for Tampa Bay.
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