PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- While pitchers tend to be ahead of hitters during this early part of spring. Justin Verlander seems to be ahead of everyone.
Verlander was dominant Friday in his second Grapefruit League outing, firing three perfect innings. But the Mets offense came alive after Verlander departed for a 5-2 victory over the Tigers at Tradition Field.
Mets starter Jon Niese nearly matched Verlander with three scoreless innings of his own, allowing three hits and striking out three.
Niese was making his Grapefruit League debut against the Tigers, after pitching two innings in the Mets' exhibition against the University of Michigan last weekend. He is tentatively slated to start Game 3 of the regular season for the Mets, but would become the leading candidate to pitch Opening Day if Johan Santana is not healthy.
"I felt good," Niese said of his Friday performance. "For the most part, all my pitches felt good."
The Mets scored their first run on second baseman Jeff Kobernus' throwing error in the fourth inning, then another on Marlon Byrd's RBI single off Luke Putkonen. Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis also added hits in the rally.
After Avisail Garcia tied the game with a two-run homer off Gonzalez Germen in the fifth, Germen loaded the bases with one out but induced a double play to preserve the 2-2 tie.
The Mets then reclaimed the lead on David Wright's RBI single off Bruce Rondon in the bottom of the inning, in what was Wright's final game before departing for the World Baseball Classic. Justin Turner added a two-run single in the sixth to make it 5-2.
In his second outing of the Grapefruit League season, Verlander struck out three, walked none and allowed no hits. He has given up one run over five spring innings, with five strikeouts and no walks.
"It was a good day or me," Verlander said. "I felt like, for the most part, my fastball location was good if not better than what it should be right now. I felt like it was coming out pretty free and easy for this time of year."
Up next: Matt Harvey will make his second Grapefruit League start when the Mets take on the Marlins at 1:10 p.m. ET on Saturday at Tradition Field. Harvey struck out three over two innings of one-run ball in his spring debut last weekend. Submariner Greg Burke is also scheduled to appear for the Mets, with Alex Sanabia starting for the Marlins.