PHOENIX — Mickey Callaway, so good at looking on the bright side and finding silver linings (at least publicly), is tired of this.
The Mets lost to the Diamondbacks, 7-1, on Sunday, an unremarkable end to a 2-5 road trip. Steven Matz didn’t pitch well, the lineup didn’t hit well and afterward they didn’t feel well.
As they head home for a season-high two-week stretch — including two games in the Bronx on June 10-11 — the Mets are 28-31 and in third place in the NL East, five games behind the Phillies. They went 9-11 during this stretch of games on 20 consecutive days.
“We put ourselves in a position to win more games than we did, but we lost them, so it doesn’t matter what position you put yourself in. You have to go get the job done,” Callaway said.
“The reason we’re inconsistent is because we’re not where we need to be as players yet, obviously, or we’d be getting it done. We’ve got to continue to be better and better, they’ve got to continue to learn, they’ve got to grow, they’ve got to continue to battle and see if we can get where we want to be.
“We have to do better. I’m kind of getting sick of saying we got to right this ship. We got to get it done.”
Matz allowed five runs in six innings, his second-highest run total of the season after his eight-run, zero-out disaster in Philadelphia on April 16.
Matz gave up a pair of home runs in the opening inning, a 482-foot shot to leadoff hitter Ketel Marte and a two-run shot by Eduardo Escobar. Arizona’s first four batters reached base, but Matz settled in to retire nine of his next 10.
That continued season- and career-long trends for Matz. In first innings this season, he has a 10.80 ERA. Even if you put aside the Philly anomaly, his first-inning ERA is high at 5.40. In all other innings, Matz has a 2.51 ERA.
And in his career? In the first, 7.14. In all other innings, 3.28.
“I’m not going to be overly concerned about it,” Matz said. “It’s all about pitch execution. I got to come out and attack guys. My last game, I had a great first inning. Today, it was not that way. Something I’ll address, I’m not ignoring it, but something I’m not going to panic about either.”
The Mets’ offense was hapless against Arizona righthander Merrill Kelly, who entered with a 4.83 ERA. A 30-year-old rookie who spent the previous few seasons in Korea, Kelly held the Mets to one run in 7 2⁄3 innings, striking out a career-high 10.
“That guy obviously had a good game,” Callaway said. “But we can’t allow people to have their best games of their career against us. That’s the bottom line.”
Amed Rosario (3-for-4) and Wilson Ramos (2-for-3) accounted for all but one of the Mets’ hits. Matz had the other.
Callaway bemoaned the Mets’ ineffectiveness relative to their success against Arizona ace Zack Greinke (four innings, four runs) on Saturday night.
“One of the better pitchers in the league,” Callaway said. “Then you have a night like tonight. That kind of inconsistency is not going to win you games. And that is why we are where we are in the standings and what our record looks like right now. We’re just too inconsistent.”
Third baseman J.D. Davis made an error and allowed another grounder to get by for a single. Shortstop Rosario failed to make a couple of tough plays as the Diamondbacks doubled their lead with a two-run fifth against Matz. Carlos Gomez barely missed catching a rally-starting double in the eighth.
“Overall game, bad defense, bad pitching, no offense,” Callaway said. “You’re going to lose when you have those.”
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