LOS ANGELES — Perhaps Wilmer Flores had spurred on some fight in his teammates. That was Terry Collins’ hope one day after Flores jawed at Dodgers bad boy Yasiel Puig for his glacial home run trot.
“I love it,” Collins said on Thurday afternoon. “I love it when people get mad. I was a little guy but I played the game mad. I played the game angry.”
But anger did nothing for the Mets. Maybe nothing can. After a 6-3 loss to the Dodgers capped one of the worst series losses in team history, the Mets left Chavez Ravine with their season in shambles.
The Dodgers hit 15 homers in sweeping the four-game set, the most they’ve hit in any series ever, an impressive feat for a franchise in business since 1884. It also was the most homers surrendered by the Mets in any series in the franchise’s 56-season history, a stunning slice of infamy considering the team’s dark early years.
“That’s a stunning number,” said a grim-faced Collins shortly after watching the Mets fall to a season-high 10 games under .500 at 31-41.
Those are depths they had not seen since September 2014, back when there were few expectations for a franchise in transition. This year was supposed to be a continuation of a turnaround, with the Mets aiming for their third straight playoff appearance. It isn’t yet July, but that goal now looks unattainable.
The Mets are 12 games behind the NL East-leading Nationals and 14 1⁄2 games behind in the race for the second wild card. The Dodgers’ domination only reinforced that gap. The Mets were outscored 36-11, with starting pitchers allowing 23 runs.
“Walks and home runs have killed us,” Collins said. “That’s one thing we haven’t done here in years. We don’t walk guys and we don’t give up a lot of home runs. And right now, we’re doing both.”
With Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia on the disabled list, the Mets’ pitching staff has been only a shadow of itself, so even a competitive effort by lefthander Steven Matz represented a step forward. Matz allowed three runs in six innings. He walked five and allowed homers by Justin Turner and Kiké Hernandez, but he struck out eight and departed with the score tied 3-3.
“I’ve been going the right direction,” Matz said.
For the second straight game, Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff homer, giving him 20 as a member of the Mets. That surpassed Jose Reyes for the club record. Travis d’Arnaud hit his eighth homer, a solo shot. And in the sixth, Lucas Duda ripped a double to the fence to drive in Jay Bruce, knotting the score at 3-3.
But with Matz’s pitch count at 107, the Mets’ bullpen took over. It took one pitch — a 91-mph fastball from righty Paul Sewald — for the Dodgers to restore order. Joc Pederson ambushed Sewald’s first offering over the rightfield fence to put the Dodgers ahead 4-3, and they weren’t finished piling on.
Jerry Blevins has been one of the few bright spots in a season defined by misery, but even he wasn’t spared from the malaise.
When he entered in the seventh, Blevins had posted a 2.25 ERA and had walked only nine batters all season. But he walked three straight, including the last two with the bases loaded to force in runs.
Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez had only two previous career plate appearances to his credit, but it didn’t matter; he walked on four pitches to make it 5-3. The last of the walks was to Austin Barnes, who battled back from a 1-and-2 count to force across another run.
It was the 280th walk issued by a Mets pitcher this season, officially giving them the most of any team in Major League Baseball.
“I was just bad today,” said Blevins, who hadn’t pitched in five days, though he wouldn’t use rust as an excuse. “It happens sometimes. Sometimes you stink.”
Remarkably, the Mets had a chance to change their fate in the eighth, loading the bases when first baseman Cody Bellinger booted Reyes’ grounder. Up came Michael Conforto to face Kenley Jansen.
Conforto began the night second on the team in average (.278). He was first in on-base percentage (.402) and tied for first with Bruce in slugging (.547). He led in OPS (.949). He was out of the lineup for a second straight night, partly because of a slump in which he has hit .175 since May 25.
“Hit a homer, that’s what was going through my mind,” Collins said. “Everybody else is flying them out of here.”
Conforto popped up the first pitch he saw. Soon the hottest team in baseball dispatched perhaps the coldest. For the first time since 1979, the Dodgers swept the Mets in a four-game series.
The Mets have lost seven of eight — with no sign of a turnaround anytime soon.