MILWAUKEE — On full display in the Mets’ 17-6 loss to the Brewers on Saturday: all of their most glaring weaknesses.
Lefthander Jason Vargas, the weakest link in the rotation, allowed five runs in three innings, blowing a pair of multiple-run leads. His ERA is 10.62.
Righthander AJ Ramos, the deposed setup man who issued a bases-loaded walk to end Friday night’s game, allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning. He pitched in the fifth, his earliest appearance in 374 major-league games.
And en route to allowing season-high run and hit (19) totals, the Mets made several defensive blunders, including a fielding error by shortstop Jose Reyes (1-for-3, double) and a throwing error by centerfielder Michael Conforto (2-for-5, homer).
“Everybody has bad games,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “We had several that had bad games at the same time.”
Everything went great for the Mets until the bottom of the first, when the Brewers answered the Mets’ three runs with three of their own off Vargas. He gave up two more in the third, one on a homer by Jesus Aguilar, before being lifted.
Vargas has averaged about four innings in his five starts this year. His only competitive outing came when he posted five scoreless frames Monday against the Marlins, the lowest-scoring team in baseball.
“He was trying to make pitches. He just couldn’t,” Callaway said. “He just needs to go out here and get some confidence. He made some strides his outing before today, and today it kind of snowballed on him again.”
Said Vargas: “They were just really swinging the bats well today . . . [My confidence is] definitely not at the highest point it’s ever been. But it’s definitely not at the lowest, either. Over the course of time, you learn how to deal with failure and success. In a position like this, you have to come ready to work every day and be ready to do your job.”
Vargas will make his next start as scheduled. The Mets’ depth chart isn’t exactly bubbling with alternatives.
“We don’t even have a guy that we know can start Game 2 [of a doubleheader] on Monday,” Callaway said.
Vargas’ short day turned into a long one for the bullpen. Jacob Rhame yielded two runs in an inning, followed by Ramos’ ugly outing.
Long reliever Chris Flexen, who had been up for a week without pitching, appeared in his first game since May 14. He escaped a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the sixth but coughed up seven runs (three earned) in the seventh.
Flexen had been a candidate to start the night game in Monday’s doubleheader in Atlanta, but he threw 57 pitches while getting hit around, a tough spot for any pitcher given his long layoff. The Mets will consider bringing in another fresh pitcher from the minors in advance of Sunday’s series finale.
“That’s tough. You’re hoping to get out to maybe 75 pitches and eat a few innings,” Callaway said. “We get in that situation, it’s tough. He made some good pitches and got a ground ball or two, we didn’t make the play and then the doors opened again. It was tough.”
Six Brewers had multiple hits. Christian Yelich (three RBIs) was a homer shy of the cycle.
The Mets’ worst pitching of the season distracted from a decent day offensively. They had a dozen hits, including seven (and five runs) in 3 2⁄3 innings against Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson. Conforto (sixth of the year, fifth of the month) and Brandon Nimmo homered.
Some days, that would have been good enough for a win. But not with the way Vargas has gone this season. He didn’t sound as if he were going to try to do anything different before getting the ball again.
“For me, it’s going back to work in between this [and the] next start and continuing to make pitches,” Vargas said. “Hopefully, it falls our way next time and you don’t get beat 17 to whatever very often.”