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Mets' offensive struggles continue in tight loss

Team has scored just two runs in its past 33 innings
Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Jay Bruce insists things will get better for the Mets. He knows it looks bad now, and that it looked very bad again Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss to the Orioles at Citi Field. But Bruce believes things will change, that New York will start hitting again and will start winning again.

The Mets have done very little of either of those things over the last couple of weeks, losing five straight and 10 of their last 12 while scoring only two runs in their last 33 innings. They had just three hits Tuesday against Alex Cobb (who came in with a 6.80 ERA) and the Orioles' bullpen.

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NEW YORK -- Jay Bruce insists things will get better for the Mets. He knows it looks bad now, and that it looked very bad again Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss to the Orioles at Citi Field. But Bruce believes things will change, that New York will start hitting again and will start winning again.

The Mets have done very little of either of those things over the last couple of weeks, losing five straight and 10 of their last 12 while scoring only two runs in their last 33 innings. They had just three hits Tuesday against Alex Cobb (who came in with a 6.80 ERA) and the Orioles' bullpen.

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Bruce had two of the three hits and scored the lone Mets run on Jose Bautista's pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the fifth inning, but that wasn't the reason for his optimism. Instead, he pointed to the names in the Mets' lineup and to the success the team had early on this season.

Video: BAL@NYM: Bautista drives in Bruce with a sac fly

"We won nine games in a row this year," Bruce said. "That team isn't gone. I don't think we forgot how to play baseball, or forgot how to hit. The bottom line is, we have a good team and we have shown how capable we are. We have a plan and approach that works. It's not working right now."

The Mets continue to waste starting pitching efforts that are good enough to get wins. Jason Vargas gave up two runs in five innings Tuesday, extending a run that has seen the rotation put up a 2.54 ERA over the last 17 games.

The Mets have won only five of those 17 games, because the offense has totaled only 57 runs (3.4 per game) in that span.

Video: BAL@NYM: Vargas K's Trumbo swinging in the 1st inning

The Mets hoped getting healthier might help, but Todd Frazier's return from the disabled list Tuesday did nothing to change the story. Frazier went 0-for-4, part of a Mets lineup that barely threatened to score.

Manager Mickey Callaway suggested the Mets may need to try more small-ball strategies to create runs, saying he spoke with first-base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. about emphasizing attempts to take extra bases on pitches in the dirt. But Callaway admitted the Mets haven't had enough runners on base for that plan to be put into action of late.

Bruce doesn't discount the idea of trying something different, as Brandon Nimmo did with an eighth-inning bunt Tuesday. But Bruce doesn't believe the Mets need drastic changes.

Video: BAL@NYM: Nimmo lays down a bunt, reaches on error

"We have a talented team," Bruce said. "We have a capable team. We're much better than we've been playing."

SOUND SMART
When Seth Lugo struck out Chris Davis to begin the seventh inning, Statcast™ recorded the spin rate on his curveball at 3,459 rpm. It was the highest curveball spin rate on a strikeout in the Major Leagues this season.

Video: BAL@NYM: Lugo fans Davis swinging in the 7th inning

UP NEXT
Right-hander Zack Wheeler (2-4, 5.14 ERA), who allowed two runs in six innings last Friday against the Cubs, takes the mound Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field in the finale of the brief two-game series with the Orioles. Right-hander Dylan Bundy (3-7, 4.46 ERA) starts for the O's.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

New York Mets, Jay Bruce