The Mets' Brett Baty walks back to the dugout after striking...

The Mets' Brett Baty walks back to the dugout after striking out in the sixth inning of a game against the Guardians on Monday in Cleveland. Credit: AP/Sue Ogrocki

CLEVELAND — In the Mets’ last best chance to save themselves Monday night, Brett Baty was the man of the moment, batting with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth, the score tight.

He struck out on three pitches against reliever Nick Sandlin. The would-be rally was over. The game soon followed. The Mets dropped the series opener to the Guardians, 3-1, for an 11th loss in their past 16 tries.

For Baty, it marked a new nadir in what has become a difficult year. He finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, lowering his average to .228 and OPS to .611 — far from what the Mets hoped for entering his sophomore season and underscoring near-term questions about the Mets’ third-base situation.

“I got on base three times [Sunday], hit some balls pretty hard, just barely missed a homer [Sunday],” Baty said in response to not spiraling after a bad game. “It’s just one game. I just gotta have better at-bats for the team. That’s the biggest thing. Bases loaded there, you just gotta have a better at-bat, because we need those runs there. Just come in tomorrow and be the same player.”

Manager Carlos Mendoza said: “He’s in between a little bit at the plate right now: not doing damage on the pitches that he needs to be doing damage [on], then chasing.”

Baty’s playing time already has been cut in half over the past week as the Mets have platooned him with Mark Vientos, who has batted — and batted well — against lefthanders.

The Mets are committed to that arrangement, which has meant not having a backup middle infielder, only through Wednesday, Mendoza reiterated Monday night.


They soon will have to decide whether to continue with both Baty and Vientos, or send one of them to the minors to re-balance the roster. Lindor and McNeil can only play every inning of every game for so long.

“It’s been great,” Baty said of sharing time with Vientos. “He’s my best friend. So I love having him here. It’s been awesome. We hung out last night. So yeah. I’m wishing him all the success in the world for sure.”

Baty has struck out in 39% of his plate appearances in May. In April, that number was 14%.

He admitted that he “didn’t have a really good plan” this time, particularly against righthander Ben Lively (5 2/3 innings, seven strikeouts, no walks).

But Baty’s big moment came against Sandlin, a sidearmer. The Mets were down by two, the early innings highlighted by Starling Marte’s ejection and baserunning blunder, plus Tylor Megill allowing three runs (two earned) in five innings in his return from a seven-week stay on the injured list.

The Mets strung together two singles and a walk to load the bases for Baty. His approach in that instance, he said, was to “be on the heater.”

On Sandlin’s first-pitch fastball, which was on the inner third of the plate and came from that funky angle, Baty flinched. Strike two came on a whiff on a splitter in the dirt. Strike three was another fastball, up, and Baty tipped it into catcher Bo Naylor’s glove.

“It didn’t show,” Baty said of his plan. “I gotta be better.”


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