SAN DIEGO -- The boom-or-bust nature of the Mets' offense necessitates that from time to time, there will be busts. The Chris Hestons of the world will have their days when the Mets aim for the fences … and miss.
An offense built around home runs will keep on swinging, regardless.
So it was Thursday night when, less than 24 hours removed from a joint-stiffening plane ride across the continent, the Mets mustered only four hits in a 5-3 loss to the Padres at Petco Park, all of their offense coming in the ninth. Had Yoenis Cespedes not punched a seventh-inning ground ball past a shift designed to beat his right-handed pull tendencies, the Mets might have even transformed Padres starter Colin Rea into Heston 2.0.
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As it was, they settled for the lesser indignity of "just one of those nights," once their ninth-inning comeback -- homer-fueled, of course -- fell short.
"We hit some balls good again tonight," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "That's part of the game. It's one of those things."
Home runs by Cespedes and Curtis Granderson in the ninth did allow the Mets to claw back within two runs of the lead, forcing the Padres to call on closer Fernando Rodney. But the Mets could not completely homer their way out of this hole.
That ensured that Cespedes' ground ball single with two outs in the seventh would remain the most memorable hit of a Rea-dominated game. Facing a defensive overshift, Cespedes said he was not trying to shoot the ball to the opposite field. But because he felt his front shoulder fly open in each of his first two at-bats, Cespedes worked to keep it closer in his third trip to the plate against Rea.
The result was a ball that didn't go over the fence, but proved impactful nonetheless.
"We were aware of what was going on," Cespedes said of Rea's no-hitter bid. "The job was just try to go to home plate as a team and get the job done to get a hit."
They did, and the Mets could swallow Thursday's loss easier because of it. They also could stomach this one just fine knowing, on another day, they'll homer enough to win.
"When we get guys swinging the bat from the top of the lineup to the bottom of the lineup … [we] hit homers," Collins said. "I think at the end of the year you'll see we'll have a lot of home runs in our lineup. But that also means once in a while, you run into somebody who's pitching real good and it's tough to score."