On Friday afternoon, Sandy Alderson said the next few weeks will determine whether the Mets trade away major pieces at the deadline. By Friday evening, the team had all but broken out the paint for the “For Sale” sign.
The Mets displayed elements of a winning effort — five strong innings by Zack Wheeler, a highlight-reel catch by Michael Conforto and a home run by Jose Bautista — but fell victim to the same old bugaboos as they lost to the Dodgers, 5-2, to extend their skid to four and dip 11 games under .500. Since their 11-1 start, they are 20-41.
Wheeler, who looked masterful early on, lost his control in the sixth and eventually gave up a grand slam to Cody Bellinger to put the Dodgers up 4-0. Bautista gave the Mets some hope in the bottom of the inning with a two-run shot off the facing of the second deck against starter Alex Wood, but the stagnant Mets offense could do little else against the bullpen.
Wheeler allowed five hits and four runs, with three walks and seven strikeouts, and pitched a clean seventh after allowing the grand slam the inning before. He threw 114 pitches.
“He was throwing the ball so well except for that one pitch that he deserved to go out,” Mickey Callaway said. “He kept us in the game. You can’t ask any more from a starter than that.”
A balk by Wheeler sent Kike Hernandez to third with two outs in the third inning, and Joc Pederson followed with a shot to the warning track in center. Conforto, running with his back to the plate, made a full-extension, diving catch on the track to end the inning.
Wheeler again hit upwards of 98 mph with his fastball and was cruising until he walked the first two batters in the sixth. With the bases loaded and one out, he left an 0-and-2 two-seamer to Bellinger up in the zone and down the middle, and the result was a second-deck home run to rightfield, the second grand slam of Bellinger’s career.
Wheeler said he meant to go up and in but simply missed.
Bautista hit a two-run homer in the sixth, his first as a Met, but Yasiel Puig’s home run against Chris Beck in the ninth provided the final margin.