First-year Mets manager Mickey Callaway thought his team hit rock bottom after losing seven of nine prior to the 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves last Wednesday at Turner Field.
He obviously did not see anything yet since the Mets embarrassed themselves this weekend by playing awful baseball in the Chicago Cubs’ four-game sweep against them. They did not pitch, hit or field in that series, and they were outplayed and outmanaged. They scored a total of six runs in four games. That was perceived as rock bottom, too.
But if that was it, what was the performance of the Mets’ two-game series against the putrid Baltimore Orioles? After an 1-0 loss to the Orioles Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, the Mets were swept, and they scored only one stinkin’ run and mustered only eight hits in two games against the worst team in baseball. No one will ever confuse the Orioles pitching staff to the great Braves pitching staff in the 90s.
The point is this may not be rock-bottom yet. It could get worse like this weekend when the Yankees play the Mets at Citi Field. This is what happens when the Mets scored two runs in the last 42 innings. That’s the way it goes when they scored seven runs during their six-game losing streak and eight-game losing streak at home. That’s reality when their output results to seven runs and 28 hits in the last six games while going 1-for-24 with runners in scoring position. Losing 13 of 16 does not make them fall any lower yet.
Even if the Yankees sweep their crosstown rivals this weekend, it may not be rock bottom. There are 103 games to go until this season is over, so the Mets have plenty of time to go deep in the abyss when it comes to futility and incompetence.
It’s clear now the Mets’ 11-1 start was smoke-and-mirrors. They were not going to hit well all season, and their bullpen was not going to be throwing zeroes game after game. Their back end of the rotation was going to be their weakness, though Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have pitched well as of late.
The Mets are probably not going to be as bad as they have played lately. They would be hard-pressed to keep playing bad baseball all season long. It’s hard to do, and they are not that bad to keep playing like they have been playing during this homestand.
Still, there’s no hope right now. If the Mets can’t get hot against the Orioles, who exactly they will get hot against?
The Mets wasted an excellent outing by Wheeler Wednesday afternoon. He was sharp, as the Orioles had a hard time hitting his slider. It was good enough for him to pitch seven shutout innings while allowing three hits. This is the best he has ever pitched for the Mets.
The Mets tried to get him a win when they had Kevin Plawecki at second on a double and Adrian Gonzalez on a walk by using Jose Bautista as a pinch-hitter for the Mets starter with two outs. It was a move Callaway had to make since he couldn’t give a free last out to Orioles starter Dylan Bundy.
The options were limited since the Mets don’t have anyone good coming off the bench, so it was Bautista. To his credit, he worked out a walk to load the bases for Amed Rosario.
The Mets beleaguered shortstop had a chance to have his Met moment in a time the Mets desperately need one. Instead, he struck out after hacking at every pitch Bundy threw. Rally over.
The Mets fans were so resigned about this outcome that they could not even muster to boo Rosario. There was no anger. Just indifference. They have reached acceptance after going through denial, anger, bargaining and depression about their baseball team for a span of five weeks.
There was no question that failed opportunity was the turning point of the game because the Orioles managed to score a run in the eighth inning. Pedro Alvarez reached base on Rosario’s inability to field the ball. Orioles manager Buck Showalter used Craig Gentry to pinch-run for Alvarez, and Gentry was able to go to third on Adam Jones’ single off Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who started the eighth inning. Manny Machado’s sacrifice fly off Familia scored Gentry, giving the Orioles an 1-0 lead. Game, set, match.
Second-guess using Familia in that spot, but that’s not why the Mets lost this game. They lost because they could not hit all game.
They could not muster a big inning in the eighth when Asdrubal Cabrera inexplicably bunted into a double play that made anyone say “That’s so Met!”. Michael Conforto meekly popped out to first to end the eighth.
In the ninth, the struggling Jay Bruce could have been the hero if he hit the walkoff home run with Todd Frazier on base, but with his luck and the Mets’ luck, it went foul. Of course, fate would have it that he flied out. Then, Plawecki flied out and Gonzalez grounded out to end the game.
Another day. Same old.
It was easy to tell the Mets were going to lose starting in the fourth inning when they were making outs after two or three pitches. Outside of Bautista and Cabrera, no one in the lineup did not take any pitches or make Bundy work. They were all guessing. This is where they miss Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, who is now the Nationals hitting coach. He would have them take proper at-bats with his coaching.
With the way the Mets have been hitting in this homestand, it’s surprising they haven’t gotten no-hit. They were in the verge of being no-hit on Sunday against Jon Lester and Wednesday against Bundy. Maybe then this would have been rock bottom, not the lack of wins in this homestand.
The Mets have four more months to go until this season is over. There’s plenty of time to hit rock bottom.
Maybe when they are in last place in the NL East, they will hit rock bottom.