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Mets unable to overcome Vargas' struggles

Lefty allows seven runs in 2 1/3 innings as New York's 3-game win streak ends
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- Acquiring Jason Vargas this offseason, the Mets believed, would give their rotation depth. So far, it has provided only headaches.

Vargas' season-long struggles continued Tuesday at Coors Field, where he allowed seven runs and recorded seven outs in a 10-8 loss to the Rockies. On a drizzly night that began with an 80-minute rain delay, Vargas became the first Mets pitcher since Bartolo Colon in 2014 to serve up three consecutive homers, allowing back-to-back-to-back shots in the third inning to Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond.

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DENVER -- Acquiring Jason Vargas this offseason, the Mets believed, would give their rotation depth. So far, it has provided only headaches.

Vargas' season-long struggles continued Tuesday at Coors Field, where he allowed seven runs and recorded seven outs in a 10-8 loss to the Rockies. On a drizzly night that began with an 80-minute rain delay, Vargas became the first Mets pitcher since Bartolo Colon in 2014 to serve up three consecutive homers, allowing back-to-back-to-back shots in the third inning to Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond.

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All told, the Rockies sent a dozen batters to the plate in the third, scoring six times off Vargas and Hansel Robles. While the Mets' own offensive output would have seemed luxurious merely one week ago, it was nothing compared to the Rockies' onslaught.

"When you come into Coors Field, you tell your pitchers, 'Don't worry about what happens here,' and you move on," manager Mickey Callaway said. "You come in here, you battle all you can and you forget about it. You can't let what happens here put you in a tailspin."

Snapping a three-game winning streak was the least of New York's worries. Coming off three of his best outings of the season, Vargas submitted arguably his worst, allowing five batted balls of at least 97 mph. By comparison, Vargas generated just five swinging strikes.

Video: NYM@COL: Plawecki plates Flores on an RBI single

His nightmare of a season began in Spring Training, when the left-hander fractured a bone in his glove hand. Slow to recover from that injury, Vargas did not debut until April 28, allowing nine runs to the Padres -- one of baseball's worst offenses -- that day.

At the time, the Mets chalked up Vargas' struggles to his injury, which forced him to pitch from behind an L screen during live bullpen sessions and simulated games. But even as Vargas logged more innings, his issues continued. Six runs to the Braves on May 3. Five to the Brewers on May 26. Even recently, in posting a 3.00 ERA over a three-start stretch, Vargas lasted just five innings in each of those games.

"The start of the season was obviously a disaster," Vargas said. "Tonight definitely gets magnified because of the things that happened earlier in the season. It's frustrating, no doubt about it. It's not something that I'm accustomed to, and not something that I want to get accustomed to."

Video: NYM@COL: Frazier plates Nimmo on a sac fly in the 1st

At least for now, Vargas' rotation spot appears secure, with Noah Syndergaard on the disabled list. But once Syndergaard returns -- he began throwing off flat ground this week, and could return to a mound in the coming days -- it will be difficult for the Mets to justify starting Vargas over Seth Lugo, who is enjoying a standout season jumping between the bullpen and rotation.

Video: NYM@COL: Callaway on Vargas' rough start, 10-8 loss

"It's frustrating," Vargas said. "You get rolling in a good direction, and then you have something like this happen."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Seemingly no deficit is safe at Coors Field. The Mets put that theory into play in the seventh inning, when Jose Bautista hit a pinch-hit RBI single and the Mets subsequently loaded the bases with one out. But Chris Rusin struck out Michael Conforto and, after Bautista scored on a passed ball, Adam Ottavino induced a soft grounder from Todd Frazier to end the threat.

Video: NYM@COL: Bautista grounds a pinch-hit RBI single

The Mets added two more in the ninth, but could not bring the potential tying run to the plate.

"The guys battled the whole game," Callaway said. "You've got to give credit to our offense. They kept on grinding away, and doing everything they could to get us back into that game."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Not since Colon had a Mets pitcher allowed three consecutive homers, and none of these were in doubt. Arenado began the Rockies' third-inning surge with a two-run shot that Statcast™ projected at 439 feet. Story followed with Colorado's longest homer of the day, a 441-foot fly to left. Desmond completed the trick with a relatively modest 386-foot shot.

Video: Must C Consecutive: Rockies go back-to-back-to-back

"I was just leaving the fastball in that third inning right in places where they could really handle it," Vargas said. "There's not a whole lot other than they were all bad pitches, and they just got hammered."

HE SAID IT
"He looks fearless out there. He goes after the hitters. And that usually leads to success." -- Callaway on rookie reliever Tim Peterson, who struck out three over two shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.42

UP NEXT
As Syndergaard begins to ramp up to a return from a finger injury, the man who replaced him in the Mets' rotation, Lugo, will make his third start in an 8:40 p.m. ET game at Coors Field. Lugo snapped a 13-inning scoreless streak last time out, allowing five runs in five innings in Arizona. He'll face Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

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