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Watered-down version of Mets swamped by Blue Jays

Zack Wheeler falls apart after a delay to dry the field in a 12-1 loss.

Zack Wheeler of the Mets hands the ball

Zack Wheeler of the Mets hands the ball to manager Mickey Callaway as he is removed from a game against the Blue Jays in the fifth inning at Citi Field on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

If anybody tells you the Mets’ 12-1 loss Wednesday to the Blue Jays was an all-around poor showing, don’t believe them. The grounds crew had a great game.

Other than that, though, it was a forgettable affair at Citi Field as Toronto picked up its first win in Queens in 13 tries. Zack Wheeler fell apart after a few good innings. A lineup that had more of a March vibe than a May one produced four baserunners. And a series of seventh-inning defensive changes served as a de facto surrender from manager Mickey Callaway, whose team hasn’t won consecutive games since April 13.

The Mets, clinging to a winning record at 20-19 after winning 11 of their first 12 games, have allowed 15 more runs than they have scored this season.

“The biggest thing is we haven’t been able to make the pitching and the hitting click together on a consistent basis yet,” said Brandon Nimmo, whose ninth-inning, two-out, two-strike home run saved the Mets from a shutout. “I just don’t foresee this staying this way. We have way too much talent. I’ve played way too much baseball, even in my short life span, to know that it just does not stay like this. You end up coming out of it and you end up hitting a hot streak.”

In a game marked by rain from first pitch till last, it was the groundskeepers who kept it going, particularly during a third-inning pour. Umpires paused play for about 15 minutes — though the tarp was never touched, a formal rain delay never declared — as the grounds crew applied a drying agent to the infield, mound and home-plate area for the third time in less than an inning.

Once the infield puddles reverted to a more manageable mud, the game resumed and Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ continued his dominance as if there was no interruption.

The same cannot be said of Wheeler, who allowed six runs across four-plus innings in an outing seemingly split in two.

Consider: Before the rain delay, Wheeler gave up one run and one hit in three innings, striking out six and walking none.

After the rain delay, Wheeler gave up five runs and six hits in one-plus inning, striking out one and walking three.

“That was a long time sitting down,” Wheeler said. “I tried to stay loose, I ran a little bit, threw in the cage and everything. I don’t want to make excuses. My ball was running a lot today, coming back over the middle. I was good early on but it fell apart there.”

When the first five Blue Jays to bat in the fifth reached base, Callaway pulled Wheeler, who has one quality start in his past five outings. Wheeler said he regressed to a delivery issue that plagued him during spring training. He was confident he would be able to fix it.

Happ, who reached base more times than the Mets did against him, experienced no such weather-related issues. He tossed seven innings, allowed two hits and struck out 10. He did not walk anybody.

“It seemed like the rain, trying to fix the field, affected our guy and didn’t affect theirs,” Callaway said. “[Wheeler] looked like he had found his rhythm, started cruising, and then a little bit of a delay there and he wasn’t the same guy.”

The Mets have Thursday off before beginning a stretch of 18 games in 17 days.

“We’re digging deeply every day to try to figure out exactly what we need to do [differently],” Callaway said. “We’re looking at every bit of information we can. Sometimes it’s tough to find that little piece of information that is going to be most impactful.”

The delay to dry out the waterlogged infield in the bottom of the third inning seemed to have an adverse effect on Zack Wheeler:

PRE-DELAY POST-DELAY

3 INNINGS 1-PLUS

1 HITS6

1 RUNS5

0WALKS 3

6 STRIKEOUTS 1

New York Sports