The Mets hoped to make themselves more immune from droughts, one of the reasons that they lavished a big-money contract on Curtis Granderson.
They hoped that his powerful bat would offer protection for David Wright in the middle of the lineup. They hoped that their four-year, $60-million investment would make a difference.
So far, their hopes have been met with a harsh reality, which was made obvious again Tuesday night when the Cardinals blanked the Mets, 3-0.
Granderson finished 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his average to .116 while doing nothing to quell the unflattering comparisons to notorious free-agent flop Jason Bay. By flying out, striking out and grounding out, Granderson established a new career-long consecutive hitless streak to 22 at-bats, eclipsing a 19 at-bat slump in 2006 with the Tigers.
"Obviously, you start to feel those a little bit," said Granderson, whose struggles have mirrored those of the team.
On this homestand, the Mets have averaged just 2.75 runs. They have been shut out twice, this time against a familiar nemesis, Adam Wainwright.
The loss only capped a rough day that began when injured ace Matt Harvey triggered a social media firestorm.
Harvey tweeted a photo of himself extending his middle finger just before Tommy John surgery -- exactly six months ago. The Mets asked Harvey to delete the tweet. He responded by wiping out his account.
"I'm not going to apologize for being myself and having a good laugh at a funny little picture," Harvey said later, when the controversy had created a temporary distraction from the Mets' failings on the field.
But there was no hiding their deficiencies against the Cards.
Dillon Gee (1-1, 3.58 ERA) wasn't sharp, but St. Louis got only two runs vs. him -- on Jon Jay's two-run single -- despite loading the bases in the fourth.
Yet that damage control was wasted on an offense that labored against Wainwright (4-1, 1.46), who went seven innings before leaving with a hyperextended right knee. Even when the Mets mounted a threat in the fifth, they found that the fates weren't on their side.
With one on and one out, Chris Young sent a long drive toward the leftfield wall. Off the bat, it appeared to be a game-tying home run, until Matt Holliday leaped to pull the drive back into the ballpark.
"Getting home runs robbed, that doesn't help," Young said. "If he doesn't catch that ball, we might not be talking about offensive struggles like right now."
Two batters later, with runners on first and second, Travis d'Arnaud hit a hard one-hopper. But it was right at shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who began a double play to end the rally.
A lineup with production from Granderson might have been able to endure the setback. Though the Mets have yet to enjoy that luxury, Collins maintains that he will keep writing Granderson's name in the lineup every day. "I don't think there's any other way," Collins said. "It's April still. We've got to get him some at-bats and get him ready."
The Mets have already moved Granderson out of the cleanup role and they've also scoured video -- dating back to his time with the Tigers -- in search of clues that may revive the swing that once popped 84 homers in two seasons with the Yankees
Answers remain elusive.
"I wish I knew, because if I knew, I would hope to be able to figure it out," Granderson said. "That's what we're searching for right now."
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