Mets' bats frozen in finale as 'pen feels heat
Niese supported by Wright's RBI knocks, but relief can't stop Rockies
DENVER -- Snow and cold will be the lasting memories from the Mets' 10-game road trip through Philadelphia, Minnesota and Denver, forcing three postponements, one doubleheader, several games in frigid conditions and one tired, chilled team.
But most impactful were the losses. The Mets dropped an 11-3 game to the Rockies amidst freezing temperatures Thursday at Coors Field, punctuating the icy disappointment of a once-promising trip.
"We're glad it's over," manager Terry Collins said after losing a third straight game to the Rockies. "We know that the weather's going to start changing. It's going to start being baseball weather."
With that, the Mets hope for a similar change of fortunes.
It was not one significant hit that sunk starter Jon Niese to his first loss of the season, but a series of timely ones. Second baseman Josh Rutledge struck the loudest blow with his solo homer in the fourth inning, but Carlos Gonzalez also contributed an RBI single in the first and Troy Tulowitzki added a run-scoring single in the sixth.
The latter hit, which snapped a 2-2 tie, came after Gonzalez doubled and proceeded to third on Jordany Valdespin's fielding error.
"This is a hot team right now," Niese said of the Rockies. "They made us pay for all our mistakes."
Colorado put the game out of reach an inning later, batting around in a six-run attack. Wilin Rosario singled home two runs and Todd Helton doubled in two more against reliever Scott Atchison, before Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac added RBI singles to open a seven-run lead. Two of the runs were charged to lefty Josh Edgin, who has given up six in his last two outings, recording three outs over that span.
"I have no explanation," Edgin said. "Overall, I'm almost there, but I guess you could say I'm not where I want to be."
The Mets took an early lead on David Wright's RBI single in the first inning, tying the game on Wright's run-scoring infield hit in the sixth. Both of those hits plated Daniel Murphy, who singled and doubled in four at-bats.
The highlight for the Mets came when shortstop Ruben Tejada, who entered the day with a league-leading six errors, made a sensational defensive play to rob Tulowitzki of a hit in the third inning. Ranging to his right, Tejada stabbed the ball in the hole, turned, jumped and fired to first in one motion, beating Tulowitzki to first base by a step.
But despite that effort, and despite putting runners in scoring position with less than two outs in the third and seventh innings, the Mets could not come from behind twice in the same game. Rockies starter Jon Garland was efficient in seven innings, striking out four and scattering six hits.
"We didn't swing the bats that good today," Collins said. "It wasn't just our pitching. We didn't get a lot of opportunities, so we need to get it going offensively."
Collins chalked some of that up to the snow and frigid temperatures in Minneapolis and Denver, preventing the Mets from taking batting practice for five consecutive days. But he and his players were careful to note all week that the Rockies played through identical circumstances. The difference was that once the snow melted, the Rockies executed. The Mets did not.
Perhaps a return to New York will change things. Warmer temperatures may thaw a frozen offense. A return to routines can only help. Playing every day will give the Mets a sense of stability.
But back in New York, three of the best teams in baseball await. The Nationals will counter Matt Harvey with their own pitching phenom, Stephen Strasburg, on Friday night, before the Dodgers and Phillies fly their own formidable starting staffs into town. For the Mets, the road grows only more difficult.
They will need to handle that adversity better than they did in Denver, in a series they would prefer to forget.
"As a baseball player," Edgin said, "you've got to be ready to play at all times."