MILWAUKEE — This is not what Mickey Callaway meant when he said he wants the Mets to walk more.
In the Mets’ 4-3 loss to the Brewers on Friday night, AJ Ramos gave Callaway the worst kind of walk: a walk-off walk.
Ramos issued free passes to the only two batters he faced, including walking Travis Shaw with the bases loaded to force in the winning run in the 10th. Only one of Ramos’ nine pitches was a strike. The last one skipped past Devin Mesoraco to the backstop as Ramos completed one more walk, a speedy one off the field.
“You’re just trying to find a way to throw a strike,” he said. “It was obvious they were just waiting to get a good strike. I just couldn’t find it for some reason.
“I haven’t been doing my job, plain and simple. There’s no excuse, no rhyme or reason. There’s not anything going on. I just haven’t been very good.”
Ramos’ 5.21 ERA is the highest of his career, but he is allowing hits at his lowest rate since 2015. The trouble is the walks: 14 in 19 innings.
“We’ve seen flashes of the real AJ Ramos,” Callaway said. “But it’s kind of been back and forth. You see a couple good innings, then you’ll see an inning where he struggles throwing it over.”
What is Callaway’s level of trust in Ramos?
“He’s in our bullpen. He’s got to pitch in situations like that,” the manager said. “Tonight was just — obviously he didn’t have it. He didn’t have anything. It hasn’t been like how it was tonight. You have to chalk that up to, man, he just couldn’t get the ball over the plate.”
Ramos was the third Mets pitcher of the inning, after Robert Gsellman sandwiched two outs around a single by Eric Sogard and Jerry Blevins allowed a single by Christian Yelich, his only batter.
They combined to ruin what had been a decent night for the Mets, who rallied in the ninth against Corey Knebel. Jose Bautista’s RBI single tied it after a pair of two-out walks. Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto homered and Asdrubal Cabrera had three of the Mets’ seven hits.
Noah Syndergaard was efficient but hittable. He lasted six innings, allowing three runs, six hits and no walks with eight strikeouts.
In the third, he faced his old nemesis: the running game. Milwaukee stole second base twice — Lorenzo Cain easily and Yelich by a smaller margin — and both scored.
That sequence came hours after Callaway praised Syndergaard’s progress in controlling opposing baserunners. Callaway said Syndergaard has cut down his time to home from 1.6-1.7 seconds to as low as 1.29 seconds.
“It’s tough when two singles score runs because of two stolen bases,” Callaway said. “It’s something Noah is cognizant of. I think he’s working on it and he’s getting better and better. But he’s not going to change it in a month. He’s going to take some time.”
Said Syndergaard: “I didn’t really give Mesoraco an opportunity to throw guys out. I didn’t give quality pitches to really handle. That one’s on me.”
Runners have stolen 12 bases in 14 tries against him this year.
Callaway lifted Syndergaard in the seventh, opting to go with pinch hitter Jose Reyes (.143) with two outs and a runner on first in a one-run game. Syndergaard threw 78 pitches (50 strikes). He finished his night with three hitless innings.
“It’s really tough,” Callaway said of the decision to pinch hit for Syndergaard. “Considering where we were offensively at the time, you have to get him out of there. He did his job.”