Maybe the worst indignity in a series full of them came in the seventh inning of the Mets’ loss Sunday afternoon, when the Braves managed to score thanks to a single step.
Antonio Bastardo balked with runners on the corners, and Erick Aybar made his way across home plate, a graceful trot that seemed to say, “There, you see how easy it is?’’
The problem, of course, is that runs don’t come easily for the Mets, and for three games, this issue manifested itself in embarrassing, troublesome ways. On Sunday, it meant a 6-0 defeat, and getting swept by the worst team in the National League. Afterward, Terry Collins was talking about making major roster moves, Michael Conforto said he hoped he wouldn’t be sent to Triple-A, and Jacob deGrom was reprimanding himself for not doing more.
The truth is there was little that deGrom could have done. The Braves’ Julio Teheran was beyond brilliant, tossing a one-hitter to drop his ERA to 2.66.
“It’s surprising and frustrating,” Collins said. “We just got done playing the Pirates. The last two games against Pittsburgh, we hit the ball great, came in here riding about as good a high as we can . . . and we got outpitched and outhit. That’s baseball.”
The Braves scored twice in the third for the early lead and never looked back. The Mets’ only hit came that inning, on Conforto’s single; he never advanced. Teheran walked none and struck out seven in only his third win of the year (going into Sunday, he had the worst run support in baseball, 2.07).
As Teheran mowed down Met after Met, the crowd grew restless. They booed in the sixth, when Curtis Granderson grounded out to first base, and again in the seventh, when Neil Walker ended the inning with a weak fly out to center. They booed Bastardo as he walked off the mound after giving up two earned runs, on the balk and a double, to give the Braves a 5-0 lead. When Hansel Robles gave the Braves another free run in the eighth on a wild pitch, they saved some boos for him, too.
“You’ve just got to keep grinding,” Walker said. “We know what we’re capable of. They outplayed us in three straight games.”
DeGrom (x-x) would have had to be nearly perfect to outdo Teheran, but he was hardly that. Calling it a bad day where he “got outpitched,” deGrom’s greatest glitch came in the third, when he allowed two runs and looked primed to give up much more. He nicked Aybar to lead off the inning, and Aybar advanced to third on Teheran’s sacrifice bunt. One out later, Ender Inciarte brought him home on a single to right. DeGrom gave up back-to-back singles to Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis, the latter scoring Inciarte. Tyler Flowers walked to load the bases but deGrom got Jace Peterson to pop to first to end the inning.
Markakis would victimize deGrom again in the sixth, stroking a changeup deep to center for a solo home run and a 3-0 lead.
After it was over, Collins said at least one thing was clear: Something needs to change.
“We may shake some things up,” he said, declining to specify them. “I’ve got a lot (of ideas). I’m not sharing one of them.”
When presented with the possibility of a major shake-up, Walker was diplomatic, although it was clear he wouldn’t be surprised if something happened soon.
Asked if it would help, Walker said, “I don’t know. We feel confident in what we’re doing here. You’re going to go through ups and downs over the course of the season. Sometimes, the lows can be really low.”
Right now, he and the Mets are speaking from experience.