CHICAGO — For the first time in a week on Wednesday, the Mets held a full-fledged pregame workout on the field, with stretching and throwing and fielding and hitting, the players tolerating the cold and snow flurries because manager Luis Rojas felt they hadn’t been crisp enough, so they needed the practice.
And then they played their worst game of the young season.
The Mets lost to the Cubs, 16-4. They allowed 13 hits, walked eight batters and made four errors, including three during Chicago’s seven-run fourth inning. Infielder Luis Guillorme pitched the eighth.
"We’re going to lose at least 50 games," Francisco Lindor said of the Mets, who are 7-6 and lead the NL East. "If we win 112, that’s impressive right there. At least we’re going to lose 50. So we understand that. We understand we’re going to struggle. We’re going to have bad days, and we’re going to have good days."
The game turned after an error by J.D. Davis at a critical moment — yes, again.
This time, he muffed a routine ground ball in the fourth, turning a potential inning-ending double play into a bases-loaded, one-out situation. That came after a pair of throwing miscues Tuesday.
"He rushed the play, tried to go too quick and took his eyes off the ball," Rojas said, adding that Davis was outwardly frustrated during a pitch change minutes later. "He was talking to himself. You can see his face. I know J.D. and know his personality. He was being hard on himself. He was looking down, looking away, putting his glove in his face."
Rojas doubled down on the Mets’ commitment to Davis as the starting third baseman.
"I don’t see why right now we would have any doubt that he can go out there and play good defense for us," he said.
Peterson answered the error by walking Matt Duffy, owner of an .091 average to begin the night, with the bases loaded to force in the tying run. The Cubs took the lead on David Bote’s two-run single blooped to rightfield. Michael Conforto’s throw home was wild, and Peterson was not backing up behind the plate, allowing both runners to advance.
After Robert Gsellman replaced Peterson, it was just as bad. Jake Marisnick, of the 2020 Mets, sent another grounder to Davis. That one turned into one out (a force at second) and one run (Duffy). Eric Sogard added a pinch-hit RBI single.
Happ capped the inning with a ground ball — ruled a single — that Lindor bobbled, then threw poorly to first, allowing the seventh run to score. Happ put the Mets out of their misery by getting caught between first and second.
"There’s just a lot of bad things happening in that inning," Rojas said.
Peterson, who had not allowed a hit through three innings, finished 3 1⁄3 innings with six runs allowed (three earned). He has a 6.75 ERA through three starts. It was the second time in as many games that the Mets’ starting pitcher failed to finish the fourth.
"I felt the same physically (in the fourth inning)," Peterson said. "I felt like I was still making pitches. Some of the hits were finding holes. It just started to turn their way."
That mess turned the early highlight into a footnote. Lindor blasted his first home run as a member of the Mets in the first inning, a 108-mph blast off Zach Davies (four innings, two runs). It was an encouraging sign for the shortstop, who batted .171 — with a .195 slugging percentage — in his first dozen games with his new team.
He said he made adjustments with hitting coach Chili Davis, who before the game noted that he spent two hours looking at Lindor video — from 2017 through this week — and spoke to one of his former Cleveland instructors, Victor Rodriguez.
Lindor reiterated a point he made over the weekend, that he can click into a hot streak at any moment. "All it takes is one swing to feel like I’m in a good spot," he said. "I got that one swing.
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