NEW YORK -- Whatever goodwill the Mets engendered with their brilliant first dozen games of the season has expired. In losing to the Rockies, 3-2, on Sunday, the Mets dropped their sixth straight game to cap a winless homestand. Since opening the year 11-1, they have gone 6-14, posting one of Major League Baseball's five worst records over that stretch.
Culprits lurk in every corner of the clubhouse, but particularly up and down the lineup. Michael Conforto is in an 0-for-13 funk. Yoenis Cespedes departed Sunday's game with a quad injury. His replacement, Brandon Nimmo, is 1-for-his-last-11. Jay Bruce hasn't driven in a run since the calendar flipped to May. The Mets averaged 1.8 runs per game on their winless six-game homestand, leading for just two of the 54 innings they played.
"I don't think it's a surprise. I don't think it's a concern," manager Mickey Callaway said. "It's a part of the game."
Even starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard was shaky Sunday, walking four batters in the game's first three innings -- including Gerardo Parra with the bases loaded. That, along with Ian Desmond's solo homer in the second inning, tied things after the Mets jumped on Kyle Freeland for two runs in the first.
Although Syndergaard did not complete a perfect inning all afternoon, he lasted long enough to deliver his fourth consecutive quality start. But Hansel Robles, who replaced Matt Harvey on the Mets' roster this weekend, served up Desmond's second homer in the eighth inning to give the Rockies the lead.
The Mets' fight back consisted of a walk and a hit against Rockies fill-in closer Adam Ottavino in the ninth. The only player left on their bench at that point was catcher Tomas Nido, who struck out on three pitches to end the game.
"It stings a little bit," Syndergaard said. "But tomorrow's a new day. We're just going to continue to stay positive."
If there is any relief in sight, the Mets may find it in Cincinnati, where they begin a series Monday against the last-place Reds. But instead of Jacob deGrom, who went on the disabled list Sunday, New York will use a rookie starter: P.J. Conlon, who owns a 6.75 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas.
"We're struggling a little bit right now," Syndergaard said, "but we could go on a run tomorrow just like we did to start the season."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Known almost as much for his control as for his ability to miss bats, Syndergaard had never walked in a run in his career until the third inning Sunday. With two men on base and no outs, Syndergaard issued a free pass to Nolan Arenado, then threw four straight pitches out of the zone to Parra, all low. Although Syndergaard recovered to strike out the next batter and induce an inning-ending double play, the temporary lapse of control -- all told, Syndergaard threw six consecutive pitches out of the zone -- cost him.
"I'm not really sure what was going on there," said Syndergaard, whose 3.09 ERA is his highest since his rookie season. "I was trying to throw strikes. The ball just wasn't going where I wanted it to."
HE SAID IT
"I just have to get those mediocre starts out of the way so I can dominate in September, I guess." -- Syndergaard
"I don't think we've seen the best of Noah Syndergaard yet." -- Callaway
With deGrom on the disabled list, Conlon will make his big league debut Monday in a 7:10 p.m. ET game in Cincinnati. Opposing right-hander Homer Bailey, Conlon will become the first Irish-born big leaguer since Joe Cleary in 1954, and the first from Belfast in more than a century. Although born in Northern Ireland, Conlon grew up in California.