The mistakes piled up quickly on the basepaths, in the field and in the batter's box. In a 7-5 loss to the Marlins at Citi Field Friday night, all of it seemed to be enemy ground for the Mets.
Only after falling behind 6-0 did the Mets' sagging offense snap to attention. But their rally came far too late to cover up their miscues, which ranged from Jordany Valdespin killing a potential rally by getting picked off to pitcher Greg Burke throwing to the wrong base to extend an inning in which the Marlins blew open the game.
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"You can't feel too deflated with an effort like that,'' John Buck said after the Mets' two-run rally in the ninth fell short. "More times than not, that will play out for us if we keep playing like that.''
The Mets trailed 1-0 at the start of the seventh after hard-luck loser Jeremy Hefner delivered six strong innings. But things turned sour for them when shortstop Ruben Tejada committed perhaps the most glaring mistake of all. He bobbled Donovan Solano's routine grounder, his third error in only four games, and threw open the door to the Marlins' five-run outburst.
"He's made some very, very good plays,'' manager Terry Collins said. "But he's let a couple of plays get away. We're so accustomed to him making every play that it's shocking when he doesn't make a play.''
The Mets might have muted the damage from Tejada's blunder had Burke not compounded it with one of his own. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Juan Pierre bunted one back toward the mound. Burke, who got a late jump, should have thrown to first base for the sure out. Instead, he threw late to third.
"In that situation, I just need to get the out,'' said Burke, who gave up a bases-loaded single to the following batter, Placido Polanco.
Daniel Murphy hit a three-run homer to cut the Marlins' lead in half in the seventh. But the Mets had scored only two runs in their previous 18 innings.
A look down the lineup reveals a roll call of culprits responsible for slowing a lineup that scored 19 runs in their first two games, though the most glaring offender can be found hitting cleanup.
Ike Davis went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout to lower his average to .063. His only hit in the first four games remains his two-run homer on Wednesday against the Padres.
In what may well be a preview of what's to come, Valdespin started for the first time this season, taking over for Collin Cowgill in centerfield against Marlins righthander Alex Sanabia. Valdespin finished 2-for-3 and walked, eventually scoring on Murphy's three-run homer. But he also spoiled a scoring threat in the third inning when he was picked off first base by Sanabia.
The way the Mets have squandered their chances of late, perhaps wiping Valdespin off the basepaths wouldn't have mattered. In their first two games, both of them victories, the Mets went 10-for-19 with runners in scoring position. In their last two, both losses, they're 2-for-16.
Notes & quotes: According to Collins, the Mets might need at least another week before they narrow down a return date for Shaun Marcum. The veteran righthander is on the disabled list with right biceps tendinitis and also is dealing with nerve inflammation in his neck.