DENVER -- The Rockies lead the National League in every major offensive category, a fact not lost upon Mets manager Terry Collins. In his cramped office before Thursday night's game, he called this series the perfect time for his team to "pull your A-game out."
Instead, in a 7-4 loss to the Rockies, the Mets managed only a failing grade.
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At the start of play, no team in the NL had scored more runs (157), hit for a higher average (.293), reached base more consistently (.343) or hit for more power (.480) than the Rockies.
With no feel for his pitches, Mets starter Bartolo Colon (2-4, 5.65 ERA) was no match. The Rockies battered the 40-year-old for seven runs and 10 hits in 41/3 innings, his shortest outing since signing a two-year, $20-million deal to join the Mets.
"If you're ever going to pull your A-game out, this would be the four days to do it," Collins had said. "In this park, with the way they're swinging, you've got to really pitch."
Colon didn't. "Just a few pitches over the middle of the plate," said catcher Travis d'Arnaud, whose three-run homer in the ninth came too late to make much of an impact. "Their team has been swinging the bats really well and they proved that tonight."
Not that Colon got much help.
First baseman Lucas Duda committed an error and easily could have been charged with another. Rightfielder Curtis Granderson proved unable to keep the Rockies from running on his arm. And the Mets fell behind 7-0 before showing any signs of life.
By the end, it was tough to determine whether Rockies starter Juan Nicasio (3-1, 4.19 ERA) was better on the mound (three hits allowed in seven shutout innings) or at the plate (three RBIs).
The Mets thought they might get a boost from the return of centerfielder Juan Lagares, who replaced Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the roster after returning from the disabled list (right hamstring strain).
In the short term, the Mets regained a Gold Glove-caliber centerfielder and perhaps one of their hottest bats. In the long term, they moved closer to the set outfield alignment long preferred by Collins.
Though Collins stopped short of saying it, Eric Young Jr. appears to be the most likely odd man out, with Chris Young and Granderson filling out the remainder of the outfield.
Lagares wasted no time re-establishing himself. He doubled off the wall in left-center to lead off the game and lined a run-scoring double in the eighth to prevent the Mets from being shut out.
"I'm so excited, man, happy to be out there," Lagares said. "I've been working for that."
Still, it wasn't enough to help the Mets deal with a poor outing by Colon. Without a translator, he did not address reporters after the game. However, through a team spokesman, he said he had no command of his two-seam fastball.
Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez blasted a tape-measure homer in the first and Nicasio lined a two-run single just inside the rightfield line in the second to make it 3-0.
The Rockies doubled the lead to 6-0 in the fourth. Duda extended the rally by misplaying a grounder, and the Rockies twice took advantage of Granderson's throwing arm to score.
Colon finally was chased in the fifth with the Mets down 7-0 on Corey Dickerson's RBI triple.
"The release point, the command wasn't there tonight," Collins said. "As I said before the game, this is a park where you've got to make pitches or you're going to get hurt here."