NEW YORK -- There were plenty of clichés coming out of the home clubhouse at Citi Field Sunday afternoon as the Mets discussed yet another loss, but for manager Buck Showalter, it all comes down to two simple words.
The Mets’ offense finally broke out of its week-long funk, scoring three first-inning runs and six overall after tallying just four runs in their previous 40 innings. But Joey Lucchesi and the bullpen couldn’t make those runs count against the Rockies, who bashed their way to a 13-6 win, giving Colorado its first series victory against New York since June 2018.
“We did score six runs, but we just couldn't seem to hold them,” Showalter said. “You try to stretch out the good times and shorten up the bad ones. Right now, we're trying to figure out a way to shorten this.”
The loss capped a disappointing 1-5 stretch against the Tigers and Rockies, giving the Mets 11 losses in their last 14 games. At 17-18, the Mets are under .500 for the first time since they were 3-4, leaving them in a second-place tie with the Marlins, seven games behind the NL East-leading Braves.
“It's probably not going to be the last time that something like this goes on this season,” Daniel Vogelbach said. “I'm not very good at math, but we have a lot of games left. We're starting to get healthy, we're starting to get guys back, so we just have to stick together. I think that's something that this group does very well; when the game challenges you like this, it’s easy to separate and it's easy to start pointing fingers. This group doesn't do that.”
It was easy to point to a couple of key potential turning points in Sunday’s game, including a first-inning baserunning blunder by Vogelbach that snuffed out the Mets’ quick rally against Rockies starter Ryan Feltner.
Having already seized a 3-1 lead, the Mets had runners at first and second with two out when Luis Guillorme singled to right field. Kris Bryant fielded the ball, but instead of firing home to try throwing out Brett Baty, he threw to second, catching Vogelbach off the base for the third out before Baty could cross the plate.
“I regretted it all game,” Vogelbach said. “I came off the bag to try to find the ball, thinking the throw was going to go home for a ricochet. Kris made a heads-up play; I barely came off the bag and by the time I looked up, the ball was on me and I just couldn't get back. I messed up. We were having good at-bats, we had the guy on the ropes; you look back and if I don't make that play, who knows where the game goes? It’s the old saying, ‘When it rains, it pours.’ Things aren't going the way we want right now. The game is challenging us, but we have a lot of baseball to play.”
After the Rockies tied the game against Lucchesi in the third, the Mets regained the lead on Jeff McNeil’s one-out, bases-loaded infield single in the fourth. That brought Pete Alonso to the plate with a chance to stretch the lead. Brent Suter got Alonso on a high changeup that was called strike three, much to the slugger’s dismay.
“It’s tough being on the bad side of the stick,” Alonso said. “Let's say the strike three to me is called a ball as it should have been, maybe the momentum doesn't shift when they get to hit. It’s tough to say.”
“Baseball is one of those sports, with the ebbs and flows of the game, you have to just hang tight,” Yacabonis said. “That's why we're all here. We’re professionals, so we'll be back on top.”
With 127 games left, that very well may still happen. Showalter knows there are a million ways to dissect his team’s recent slide, but none of it matters as much as the numbers on the scoreboard at the end of each game.
“There's a lot of things I can say, but it sounds like excuses; we're not going there,” Showalter said. “Play better. That goes for all of us.”