MIAMI -- Slowly, JT Riddle's ground ball dribbled down the first-base line, freezing Wilmer Flores where he stood. As Flores stared at the baseball, Riddle ran past him, sprinting into first base with a go-ahead RBI single on Saturday in the Mets' 5-2 loss to the Marlins.
No one had a better vantage point of the play than Jacob deGrom, who had seen this type of thing before. The Mets all have. Coming out of Spring Training with October aspirations, the Mets concluded the third-worst month in franchise history, winning just five games in June to fall to the National League's worst record. Their inability to win deGrom's starts has baffled them; their inability to win, period, has exasperated them.
"I'm tired of losing, to be honest," deGrom said.
That deGrom plays for the NL's worst team -- at least for now -- means he may have to deal with the Mets' foibles for some time longer. Their loss pushed them to 32-48, percentage points behind the Marlins in the NL East standings. It is a position that could ultimately prompt them to sell a player such as deGrom before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, as the Mets look more squarely toward the future with each passing defeat.
In that way, each deGrom start increasingly becomes a sales pitch. Dominant early, deGrom -- whose start the Mets pushed back a day due to a family issue -- fanned seven over the game's first five innings. In striking out the side in the fifth, he whittled his ERA to 1.61.
But deGrom ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing an infield single and a Brian Anderson game-tying homer on an 87-mph changeup that leaked into the strike zone's inner half. Feeling uncharacteristically fatigued, deGrom then walked Justin Bour and gave up a Starlin Castro single to put runners on the corners. Riddle followed with his infield hit, which Flores fielded tentatively instead of charging.
"The only chance we had was maybe at home plate," Flores said. "That's just a tough ball."
When deGrom came off the field following that inning, he told manager Mickey Callaway that he was tired, prompting the Mets to remove him after just 84 pitches. Any designs the Mets had on a comeback evaporated at that point. In the seventh, Amed Rosario committed a fielding error, giving J.T. Realmuto the chance to bash a game-breaking two-run double to left.
It has been that type of season both for deGrom, who fell to 5-4 despite his league-leading 1.84 ERA, and for the Mets, who finished June with a 5-21 record. That marked just the third time in franchise history they posted a sub-.200 winning percentage in a calendar month, and the first time in 36 years.
"That was not the goal coming in," deGrom said. "The goal was to have the best winning percentage, and this is the complete opposite. So nobody's happy with that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Among those Mets entering the Trade Deadline conversation is outfielder Jose Bautista, whom the team signed last month to a deal worth the pro-rated Major League minimum. Following an initial rough patch, Bautista led the Mets in on-base percentage in June, hitting his third home run in the first inning off Marlins rookie Pablo Lopez. The shot traveled a projected 403 feet, according to Statcast™, and gave the Mets a 1-0 lead.
The Mets' .192 winning percentage in June marked their third-worst calendar month in franchise history (minimum 20 games). The team went 4-25 (.138) in July 1963, and 5-24 (.172) in August 1982.
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
Pinch-hitting for deGrom in the seventh inning, Jose Reyes pulled up about halfway to first base after grounding out to short. When Reyes returned to the dugout, Callaway and bench coach Gary Disarcina appeared to chastise him for not running out his ground ball, but Callaway said afterward that they were actually discussing a tweak Reyes felt in his leg. The Mets do not believe the issue to be serious.
HE SAID IT
"It just sucks. We're battling through it. We've just got to keep battling. Don't put our heads down because of our losing record." -- Flores
Steven Matz has avoided the Marlins thus far this season, facing every other NL East team at least once. That will change when he starts a 1:10 p.m. ET series finale on Sunday at Marlins Park, pitching opposite right-hander Dan Straily. Last year, Matz blanked the Marlins over seven innings in his only start against them.