In this charmed first half of the Mets’ season, with all the wins and the improbable feats and the gaggle of potential All-Stars, the temperature of the fan base is such: At the end of maybe their ugliest half-inning of the year, the Brewers’ seven-run, 32-minute top of the fifth against a trio of pitchers Wednesday, the Citi Field crowd of 25,422 actually cheered.
Sure, that hooting and hollering might have been laced with some sarcasm. But the reaction was not nearly as ruthless as it could have been — or would have been in seasons past. The goodwill earned by their early success shielded them from anything harsher during a 10-2 loss to Milwaukee.
“We self-inflicted some things,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We’ve done that before and overcome it. Tonight, with [reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin] Burnes, there’s not much room for error.”
The Mets (41-23) have suffered blowout losses in four of their past seven games. Their lead in the NL East has shriveled to four games from 10 1⁄2 games at the start of the month. Second-place Atlanta has won 14 consecutive contests.
Craig Counsell — one of Buck Showalter’s pupils on the 2000 Diamondbacks — picked up his 564th win as manager, becoming the all-time leader for the Brewers (35-29).
Starling Marte exited after being hit in the right forearm by a pitch from Burnes. X-rays were negative. The Mets said he is considered day-to-day with a contusion. This is Marte’s second seemingly minor injury in as many weeks after he missed three games recently because of left quad tightness.
“I’m hoping we got lucky again,” Showalter said. “But it hurts.”
The game turned in that fifth inning, when Willy Adames led off with a single, ending David Peterson’s night. Instead of giving the ball to one of his more regular relievers in what was a two-run game, Showalter brought in Jake Reed, among the chief riders of the New York/Syracuse shuttle this year.
“I thought with Reed’s ability and arm angle that he’d be able to get through that,” Showalter said. “It just didn’t happen. Good matchups for him normally, but tonight he wasn’t able to get to it.”
Reed walked a batter and hit another with a pitch to load the bases, then — with two outs — walked Victor Caratini to force in a run. Lorenzo Cain was credited with an RBI single on a soft grounder toward shortstop, bobbled by Francisco Lindor. Jace Peterson smoked a two-run double to right-center. In came Trevor Williams, who gave up a two-run single to Adames and a one-run single to Andrew McCutchen.
Luis Urias, the fourth and 13th batter of the inning, struck out swinging both times, including to conclude the frame.
Peterson was charged with four runs in four innings (plus one batter in the fifth). It could have been worse. He hit consecutive batters with pitches in the first inning, walked consecutive batters to open the third, and made an error on a pickoff attempt, also in the third.
“I felt like I had everything I needed to go out there and dominate,” said Peterson (3-1), who has a 3.60 ERA. “But I wasn’t consistent enough in the strike zone and wasn’t getting into pitcher’s counts consistently.”
Showalter added: “David’s capable of better . . . he made some quality pitches and just couldn’t string a lot of them together.
Burnes held the Mets to two runs in six innings, striking out eight and walking none. Jeff McNeil was the only batter to do damage against him, including a home run in the fourth. Showalter credited Burnes’ signature cutter for much of that effectiveness.
“Think Mariano Rivera,” Showalter said, “as a starter.”