Mets limited to two hits in loss to Giants

Chris Young #1 and Juan Lagares #12 of
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Chris Young #1 and Juan Lagares #12 of the Mets can't come up with a ball hit for a seventh-inning triple by Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

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Go ahead. Say it. Same old Mets.

The observation is entirely accurate, based on the roster status quo after Thursday's trade deadline. No new faces for August. Worse, to loyalists of the Mets -- that's M.E.T.S.: Muddling Excruciatingly Through Seasons -- is how painfully familiar was Friday night's 5-1 loss to the Giants.

The evening made a competitive July (15-10) and hopes of a relevant final two months appear closer to a mirage. San Francisco righthander Ryan Vogelsong (6-8, 3.74) no-hit the Mets through five innings and generally suffocated them with a two-hitter. He walked one and struck out five.

"I've seen Ryan a lot,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Everything he threw was a strike. I don't think we got out of our game plan, but when you're getting down strike one all the time . . . ''

A messy rally for two unearned runs in the second inning was all the Giants needed against Jon Niese (5-7, 3.24 ERA), whose throwing error opened the door for Brandon Crawford's RBI single and Hunter Pence's RBI groundout.

Pence tripled home two runs in the seventh and scored when Matt Duffy, in his major- league debut, singled for his first hit and first RBI.

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"Made a mistake there in the second," Niese said. "Made another mistake there in whatever that inning was, where I gave up three, with Hunter Pence there. Obviously, you can't make those mistakes, especially when the opposing pitcher is pitching like he is.

"Their game plan obviously was to be aggressive. They knew I was pounding the zone, throwing strikes. It's not a bad game plan for them. It worked."

Niese, who was relieved by Vic Black after giving up a leadoff single in the ninth, allowed five runs -- three earned -- and nine hits. He struck out four and walked none but hit two batters.

To this unchanged melody of frustration, the Mets' best rejoinder is a longer-term one, of their management's refusal to jump through the hoops potential trade partners were seeking. To stay the course with young prospects, squint through the fog of patience vs. change.

"It's easy to say, 'Go get this player, go get that player,' " David Wright said. "You read some things and sometimes the expectations get set so high. But you don't know what the asking prices are. So I think sometimes it creates a lot of much ado about, really, nothing."

To Collins, it's simply time to move on. "I think when the guys walked in today and looked around the room and saw familiar names on the backs of those uniforms," he said, "they kind of took a deep breath and said, 'OK, let's get after it.' "

Lucas Duda continued to flex his muscles with an eighth-inning home run -- his 20th this year and sixth in his last nine games -- and collected an RBI for a career-high seventh straight game.

The Mets, however, remain in no position to set lofty goals. "I could sit there and say, 'Geez, in the next two months, if we go 15 and 10 and 15 and 10, we take our chances,' " Collins said. "But that might not be good enough, so I'm not putting any numbers on anything except that we've got to just go out and try to put a string together and play consistently and see what happens."

The Mets have hinted lately at changing their narrative. But Friday night, aside from Duda's home run, the only baserunners came on Curtis Granderson's fourth-inning walk -- he was erased on Daniel Murphy's double-play ball -- and Juan Lagares' sixth-inning ground-ball single.

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