NEW YORK -- As his Mets teammates descended into their clubhouse following a 1-0 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon -- their sixth straight defeat and their eighth in a row at Citi Field -- Asdrubal Cabrera remained seated alone on the dugout bench. He finished 1-for-4 in the game and 1-for-8 in the two-game series sweep, which qualified him as one of the Mets' more productive offensive players.
Cabrera also made a questionable decision in the eighth inning, the nature of which spoke volumes about the state of New York's offense. Batting with the potential tying run on first base, Cabrera -- the Mets' most consistent hitter all season -- popped up an attempt to bunt the runner over to second, resulting in a rally-quashing double play. An inning later, the Mets wasted another leadoff hit, leaving the field having scored two runs in the past 42 innings.
"Guys are pissed," manager Mickey Callaway said. "You could see it after the game today. It felt like the whole game, everybody thought we were going to win the game. Then we don't, and I felt like everybody was mad. They weren't down on themselves. They were mad."
It was Callaway who, after a loss to the Orioles on Tuesday, implored the Mets to employ more small-ball tactics with their usual home run thump missing. But when asked if Cabrera bunted on his own in the eighth, Callaway twice demurred, giving lengthy answers to yes-or-no questions that did not include the words "yes" or "no." Cabrera later said the bunt was his call, taking ownership of a play designed to give the Mets a spark.
That it didn't work was hardly unusual for an offense that has scored nine runs during its eight-game home losing streak -- the franchise's longest in more than a half-decade. Since jetting out to an 11-1 start to the season, the Mets own MLB's second-worst offense (in terms of runs per game) and the league's third-worst record.
They never put up much of a fight Wednesday against Orioles starter Dylan Bundy, who allowed three hits and three walks in seven innings. Wheeler matched Bundy out for out, but Callaway was forced to remove him for a pinch-hitter with the Mets constructing a rare rally in the seventh. They didn't score, and the first man out of their bullpen, Jeurys Familia, gave up a Manny Machado sacrifice fly for the game's only run.
"I think we're a lot better team than how we're playing," Wheeler said. "I've said that before and I'll keep saying it, because we're a lot better team than how we're playing. The record doesn't show it, but that will come around. And it needs to turn around pretty fast. We're at the point in the season where we need to start winning some games."
Before returning home to Citi Field late last month, Callaway said his team, which scuffled throughout May, had hit "rock bottom." General manager Sandy Alderson added Thursday that the Mets' 8-8 record in its previous 16 games was "incredible" given the state of things -- injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier, Noah Syndergaard and others; slumps for Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto and nearly everyone else in the Mets' lineup.
The Mets have since lost six straight and the schedule grows only harder from here, with six consecutive series against teams with .500 records or better. The first of those comes against the Yankees this weekend at Citi Field, where the boos the Mets heard Wednesday will only intensify if they continue to struggle.
"The added pressure, it can add up. It can build mountains in your head," Frazier said. "We're trying our best. Of course we are. We've got four months left."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
With the top of Baltimore's lineup due to bat in the eighth, Callaway turned to his closer, Familia, who allowed hits to two of the first three batters he faced. Machado followed with a 384-foot sacrifice fly on a belt-high sinker, easily plating pinch-runner Craig Gentry.
"You know he's going to come after you, try to get the ground ball." Machado said. "So you're just looking for something up. Tried to get at least one there. [Adam Jones] getting that base hit, Gentry there at third base, it was a huge run for us, obviously."
Wheeler's seven innings marked his longest scoreless outing since June 19, 2014, when he threw his only career shutout against the Marlins. Wheeler owns a 2.52 ERA over his past four starts and, with a single in the fifth inning, is batting .286. Among pitchers with at least 10 at-bats, only Philadelphia's Vince Velasquez (.300) has a higher average.
HE SAID IT
"Subway Series, what can be better than that? Let's have some fun with it. I keep telling guys, 'Just keep having fun,' just keep going. Don't get too down on yourself. Just keep going and it will work itself out.'" -- Frazier
The Mets have their top three pitchers lined up for the Subway Series, which begins Friday at Citi Field. Right-hander Jacob deGrom will start the 7:10 p.m. ET opener opposite Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. Steven Matz will pitch Saturday and Syndergaard will come off the disabled list to start Sunday. There is also a chance Cespedes could return from the disabled list for at least part of the series.