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Verlander dominates, Castro homers, Astros beat Mets 2-0

Verlander dominates, Castro homers, Astros beat Mets 2-0

NEW YORK — Justin Verlander has that look: four or five days of stubble when he takes the mound, a focused glare, a game-day demeanor that if not quite ornery is admittedly intense.

“I can’t be that guy that rolls in on start day and is just kind of like loosey-goosey and having fun with guys and then try to turn it on when I take the field,” he said. “It doesn’t work for me.”

Back in the major leagues after missing last year due to Tommy John surgery, Verlander once again is among the best pitchers in the game.

Verlander pitched two-hit ball for eight innings, light-hitting backup catcher Jason Castro lined a two-run drive in the ninth for his first homer this season and the Houston Astros beat the Mets 2-0 Wednesday to send New York to its first three-game skid this season.

“He’s the guy that stops losing streaks. He creates winning streaks,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

Verlander (10-3) became the major leagues’ first 10-game winner, striking out six and walking one. The 39-year-old right-hander, a two-time Cy Young Award winner and the 2011 AL MVP, lowered his ERA to 2.03 ERA – third to Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan and Miami’s Sandy Alcantara.

“My curveball this year has been really good,” Verlander said. “My slider is not as good as it was in `19. My fastball has playing pretty well, getting a lot of weak contact, kind of infield popups, high popups. Swing and miss is a little bit down. It’s just interesting. I feel largely the same, but the stuff seems to be playing a little bit different.”

Before the game, Baker compared Verlander’s game-day bearing to Andy Messersmith, Don Sutton and Jerry Reuss – they were Dodgers stars in Dusty’s playing days.

“He didn’t say `good morning’ the other day – he’s ready,” Baker said.

Brandon Nimmo doubled on Verlander’s first pitch, and Pete Alonso walked with two outs to put runners at the corners.

Jeff McNeil fouled off a full-count slider and then a fastball. Verlander…

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