When Ike Davis stepped into the batter's box in the ninth inning Sunday, it was easy to imagine the possibilities.
Sure, hits had been hard to come by on this day, and now the Mets were down to their last out, trailing the Cincinnati Reds by a run. But it seemed fitting that Davis was at the plate. No one could question what he's capable of with one swing.
Only 24 hours earlier, he had lifted them to a dramatic walk-off win with a pinch-hit grand slam. And on this day, he already had two of his team's four hits.
What's one more? And why not another home run?
Three empty swings later, those dreams were dashed. Davis went down swinging meekly at an 81-mph curveball from lefthander Manny Parra, presenting an appropriate close to a 2-1 loss defined by the Mets' inability to produce offense.
As the Mets left after the game for their first road trip, which begins Tuesday night in Atlanta, they did so as owners of a disappointing 2-4 record.
They know they can't complain after starting the season by getting swept by the Nationals. But they arrived at Citi Field Sunday greedy, hoping to finish their first homestand with a .500 record. "If it's 3-and-3, it looks a little different," manager Terry Collins said.
The Mets got just about everything they could have hoped for out of lefthander Jon Niese in his season debut after being activated from the disabled list. He allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings, but their lineup provided very little support.
Collectively, they went 4-for-30 against the Reds' Alfredo Simon (seven innings) and Parra, and they had only one hit in the final 6 2/3 innings.
"We're not happy with it, but you've got to rally," Collins said. "We've talked about this so many times. This is a game where you've got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get ready for tomorrow."
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Davis took advantage of the Reds' defensive shift by lacing a double to leftfield and scoring on a single by Juan Lagares.
One inning later, they seemed primed to add to that lead, but with runners on second and third and one out, Simon struck out Daniel Murphy on a 76-mph curveball and David Wright on an 89-mph cutter.
The Mets wouldn't have another scoring opportunity like that again. They had only two more baserunners and neither reached scoring position. "Offensively, we'd like to do a little more," Wright said, "but their guy is trying to get us out, too."
Niese took the 1-0 lead into the sixth inning and was on a roll, having retired 10 of the last 11 Reds. But Cincinnati loaded the bases with three consecutive singles, a streak that began with a single by Simon, and Joey Votto's sacrifice fly tied the score.
Ryan Ludwick then lined a high fastball to left for a single, driving in Chris Heisey from third with the go-ahead run.
Niese attributed the rough inning to "bad luck," saying the only pitch he regretted was the second fastball he threw to Simon, who singled to right to begin the rally. Niese wished he had thrown a breaking ball to give Simon a different look.
But the Mets know that if Niese pitches like this, they'll be fine -- as long as they can give him some runs. And Collins is adamant that it will happen consistently. He's just getting impatient.
Said Collins: "We've got to get the offense kick-started. We did not swing the bats like we're capable of."
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