MILWAUKEE -- There was a time this season when manager Mickey Callaway's every move was golden, his decisions unimpeachable. There was a time when the Mets boasted baseball's best record and baseball's best bullpen, the cogs of their machine clicking in tandem. All of that has since unraveled to such an extent that angst is now blooming within their clubhouse.
Shortly after the Mets' 8-7 loss to the Brewers on Sunday, the team's third straight defeat, reliever Jerry Blevins said he has graduated from frustration to anger. Callaway tried to explain a series of bullpen moves that backfired. Zack Wheeler bemoaned, once again, one bad inning.
"We need to play better than we have the last two days, that's for sure," Callaway said. "We've got to make plays. We've got to make pitches. We've got to catch the ball. We have to do that."
The cruelty of the Mets' weekend in Milwaukee was that for the first time in weeks, they hit consistently. A four-run rally in the second inning Sunday, highlighted by Wheeler's two-run single, gave the Mets an early three-run lead for the second straight game. And for the second straight game, they gave it right back, this time when Jesus Aguilar turned on a 97-mph fastball that Wheeler tried to sneak by on the inside corner.
Again in the middle innings, the Mets took a lead, as they did in Saturday's loss. And again they squandered it, when Robert Gsellman, Blevins and Paul Sewald combined to allow four runs in the seventh, the key blow coming on Domingo Santana's go-ahead, two-run double.
All told, Mets pitchers allowed 29 runs to the Brewers over the final three games of the series. That they did so against the National League's best team in terms of winning percentage was little solace for a club that now must play four games in three days in Atlanta vs. the NL's second-best team in terms of run differential. New York must tackle that series with its pitching on the rocks. Their starter for Game 2 of Monday's doubleheader is still to be determined, while one of their top relievers, AJ Ramos, could land on the disabled list with a shoulder issue.
Stretched so thin are the Mets that they are flying four extra players to meet them in Atlanta, where they can only hope things turn in their favor.
"It's kind of rough when you finally start scoring some runs, and then you give up runs," Callaway said. "But that's how it's been, and we need to change things. We need to play better all around."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Decisions, decisions: After retiring two of the first three batters he faced in the seventh, Gsellman walked Aguilar on a borderline pitch -- Statcast™ data indicated it was a strike -- to bring up lefty Travis Shaw. For the second time in three games, Callaway removed Gsellman in favor of Blevins, citing the lefty's better track record against Shaw, as well as his career-long success rate against lefties. But Blevins allowed a bloop RBI hit and the next batter, Santana, put the Brewers ahead.
Thirteen times this season, the Mets have asked Blevins to record a single out against a left-handed hitter. He has been successful only seven times.
"I don't think I've been this angry with baseball in a while," Blevins said. "Mickey puts me in a situation that's tailor-made for me. That's what I've been doing my whole career, and it would have been really nice to help the team out and show Mickey that the faith in me is not for naught."
HE SAID IT
"Some things just aren't going our way. Sometimes the pitching's there and the hitting's not, and sometimes the hitting's there and the pitching's not. Once we all get on the same path, I think we'll take off, and we'll just look back and sort of laugh about this little stretch. We're a better team than how we're playing right now, and I think all of us know that." -- Wheeler
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Coming within inches of homering for the third consecutive game, Michael Conforto settled for a leadoff double in the fifth when umpires consulted replay and overturned the call on the field. The ball appeared to strike the yellow line on the center-field fence rather than go over it, forcing Conforto back to the field. He scored two batters later on Jay Bruce's RBI single.
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
Starting his fourth consecutive game at third base, Wilmer Flores departed in the fourth inning due to lower back soreness. Flores committed a throwing error in the third inning, and his spot in the batting order did not come up in the top of the fourth. There was a brief delay to begin the bottom of the inning as the Mets scrambled to bring replacement Luis Guillorme onto the field.
After the game, Flores flew back to New York for tests. The Mets scratched infielder Phillip Evans from his game at Triple-A Las Vegas in case he must replace Flores on the roster Monday. In either event, Callaway indicated Jose Bautista could start at third base in Game 1 of the doubleheader.
Jacob deGrom, who has allowed one run in his last 33 1/3 innings, will put his early National League Cy Young Award credentials on the line when he takes on lefty Max Fried in Game 1 of a Memorial Day split doubleheader Monday in Atlanta. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.
The Mets haven't announced a starter for the 7:10 p.m. ET matchup for Game 2, though they are considering using an "opener" -- either Seth Lugo or Gsellman -- to record at least the first three outs. After that, the Mets could turn to either P.J. Conlon or a series of relievers. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy will start for the Braves.