LOS ANGELES — The Mets were on their way to their sixth loss in seven games, and the latest defeat included a public indignity. It was delivered by the Dodgers’ resident bad boy, Yasiel Puig, whose glacial home run trot after a three-run shot felt like salt in the wound.
It was enough for Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores to scold Puig as he rounded the bases, setting off a wave of drama that underscored just how far off course the Mets have veered. A day after Wednesday night’s 8-2 loss to the Dodgers, some Mets admitted that their reaction may have stemmed from frustration.
“It’s frustration from everyone,” said Jose Reyes, who joined Yoenis Cespedes in having a word with Puig shortly after the incident.
The Mets hope to move past the drama to focus on more pressing matters. They entered Thursday night 31-40, a season-high nine games under the .500 mark. They trailed the NL East-leading Nationals by 11 1⁄2 games and were 13 1⁄2 games out of the wild card — behind five other teams.
“I think it’s done, man,” Reyes said of the incident. “We’re focused on winning the game tonight and seeing what happens. The way that we’re playing, we cannot focus on Yasiel Puig.”
The Dodgers’ domination through the first three games of a four-game set only reinforced that massive gap. The Mets were outscored 30-8, with starting pitchers allowing 20 runs. The Dodgers pounded 12 home runs, further punishing a pitching staff that is hardly a shadow of the Mets’ recent dominant staffs. Compounding matters, the Mets have endured a spate of shoddy defense.
Puig’s trot seemed to stir the sour feelings that have bubbled beneath the surface of the Mets’ worst stretch of the season.
Flores surprised teammates by saying something to Puig as he rounded first base. Puig nearly stopped and turned to deliver a four-letter response, then continued along at an even slower clip.
At 32.1 seconds, Puig’s home run trot actually took longer than Bartolo Colon’s memorable journey after his only big-league homer last season.
“That was good that Wilmer said something to let him know,” Reyes said. “I do like it. If you’re going to pimp the home run, you can do it. Stand up. But run the bases. Don’t stand up, then walk four or five steps, then run slow. Wow.”
Puig’s reputation also might have fanned the flames. Through the years, he has been no stranger to controversy, with the latest coming when he flashed an obscene gesture to a fan in the stands.
Puig broke an unwritten rule that has been violated repeatedly by the Mets’ own Cespedes and dozens of others. Later, when Cespedes pulled Puig aside on the field to advise him to move it along on the basepaths, the moment seemed both surreal and hypocritical.
“He didn’t even know what he did,” Reyes said, relaying the conversation. “He continued to say to me and Cespedes, ‘What did I do? What did I do wrong?’ Wow. If you don’t know what you did wrong, you’ve got problems.”
Cespedes grew animated during the conversation and made mention of it to Terry Collins after the game. “Yo was hot,” Reyes said. “Yasiel, he wasn’t even looking at Cespedes. He was looking at me. The whole time Cespedes was talking, he was looking at me. I said, ‘Man, you have to be better than that. You have to make people respect you as a player.’ ”
Collins said the anger was a welcome sight.
“You bet your [expletive], you bet,” he said. “I love it, I love it when people get mad. I was a little guy but I played the game mad. I played the game angry.”