PHILADELPHIA -- Through it all -- the non-apologies and apologies, the reports and the muddle -- the Mets still had to filter out of their dugout Monday and play a game against a chief division rival. The Phillies, who had lost nine of their last 10, offered a potential reprieve as New York looked to close out a difficult 11-game road trip against three playoff contenders.
But the Mets could not take advantage, holding their own for a time before folding in the middle innings of a 13-7 loss at Citizens Bank Park. It was a familiar face, Jay Bruce, who put the game out of reach, hitting a pinch-hit, two-run homer off Brooks Pounders in the sixth.
“Our pitching just didn’t get it done,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said.
Pounders had entered an inning earlier in relief of starter Steven Matz, who gave back a pair of leads in 4 1/3 innings. After the Mets plated two in the top of the first, Matz served up home runs to Jean Segura and Rhys Hoskins in the bottom of the inning. The Mets took another lead on Michael Conforto’s solo homer in the fifth, but Matz allowed a Segura RBI double and a Maikel Franco two-run homer moments later.
All told, the teams combined for 20 runs on 34 hits, engineering an eventful night after a chaotic afternoon. For the Mets, the day began with a team meeting to discuss Sunday’s clubhouse incident involving Callaway, pitcher Jason Vargas and a reporter at Wrigley Field. Callaway initially declined to apologize for his role in the incident, before calling a second press conference to do just that.
Hours later, reports surfaced that during a June 1 game in Phoenix, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen had delivered remote instructions to Callaway to remove Jacob deGrom, whom the Mets feared was injured. Addressing that incident after Monday’s loss, Van Wagenen said he has never dictated moves to Callaway during games, but he has communicated with Mets trainers when a player’s health is in question. The June 1 game fell under that umbrella.
Callaway added that he feels he has full autonomy to make decisions during games, and he has throughout his year-and-a-half tenure as Mets manager. His trouble has been the results of those choices. Sticking with Matz in the fifth inning Monday burned Callaway when Franco hit his two-run homer. Removing Matz for Pounders proved no better, as the reliever allowed as many runs -- five -- as he recorded outs.
It has been that way all season for Callaway and the Mets, who own baseball’s 28th-ranked bullpen and recently fired pitching coach Dave Eiland as a result of it. Monday, the Mets tied their season high with 15 hits -- four of which were homers -- and still lost. They gave up 19 knocks to the Phillies, who also went deep four times off Matz and Pounders. Mets pitchers did not retire the side in order a single time all night.
The result was their fifth loss in the first eight games of this 11-game road trip, which has swung them through Atlanta, Chicago and now Philadelphia. Three contests remain away from home for the Mets, who sit a season-high nine games out of first place.
“We’ve just got to keep trying to find ways to win,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We put our best foot forward there for the first five, six innings, but couldn’t muster up a ‘W.’”