PHOENIX — While the Mets’ effort has yet to be called into question during this West Coast trip to nowhere, at least one player was fed up with the postgame clubhouse behavior following Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
With a handful of Mets scattered around the room, and laughter coming from a group of media and players, an irritated Alex Cora repeatedly shouted at the pack to quiet down.
“A little respect please,” Cora yelled. “They stuck it up our ——!”
At first, Cora’s complaints didn’t register, and his anger continued to build until he finally headed for the clubhouse exit, yelling at the group on his way out. As soon as Cora disappeared around the corner, manager Jerry Manuel came out of his office, looking to tell Cora that he was going to be in Wednesday’s lineup.
Cora, having forgot something at his locker, ran into Manuel briefly, got the message, then stormed back out. But not before complaining to two other teammates, as well. Cora’s outburst, the first of its kind out in the open this season, was warranted. The Mets should have been frustrated after dropping to 1-5 on this road trip — the only victory a gift from umpire Phil Cuzzi in San Francisco. Aside from Cora, everyone else seemed to be at a loss for words after getting dominated by D-backs rookie pitcher Barry Enright, who allowed only four singles and Josh Thole’s first major-league homer during his eight-inning stint.
“This is crazy,” Carlos Beltran said. “It’s a little difficult right now. When you have some opportunities to score some runs and you don’t score, it’s tough. I think we’re trying too hard.”
Enright, in only his fourth major-league start, gave up five hits and the other four were singles. The Mets had two of those singles to lead off the first inning, but after Jason Bay struck out with the bases loaded, Enright retired 14 straight. The Mets also hit into a pair of double plays.
Before Thole’s home run, the Mets had scored a total of 10 runs in 53 innings since the All-Star break. With Beltran and Luis Castillo reunited with Jose Reyes and David Wright, the Mets are now 0-2 and have been outscored 16-4. Angel Pagan’s home run off Juan Gutierrez in the ninth provided a glimmer of hope, but the Mets went down in order from there.
“You kind of expected a little bit better output than what we got today,” Manuel said.
“We’re still kind of finding our way with the setup that we have now. R.A. [Dickey] gave us every opportunity to win, gave us a big chance, and we didn’t get it done. We’re not quite playing the baseball that we played earlier.”
As for the retooled lineup, Manuel says he has no plans to make any changes, other than giving Beltran and Castillo the occasional day off. The Mets also decided to keep Thole and send down Justin Turner to make room for Oliver Perez, who will be activated Wednesday.
Thole, now batting .500 (12-for-24) after the homer, may even get more playing time.
“I really thought this lineup would be a good lineup for us,” Manuel said. “Maybe the young pitcher might have had something to do with it, as well. I believe that this lineup can get it done. I really do. I believe that.”
With the Mets struggling to score runs, Dickey’s margin for error was again razor-thin, and the altitude and low humidity made life more difficult, as well. In the third inning, with two outs, Dickey left a 3-and-2 knuckleball up to Justin Upton, who blasted a home run into the centerfield picnic area. The pitch was not even in the strike zone. But it floated in at about eye level for Upton and slow enough so that he could get the barrel on the ball. It was only the fifth homer allowed by Dickey in 75 innings.
“That’s a strong human being,” Dickey said, “because I thought he had skied that ball.”
The D-backs took a 3-0 lead in the fourth and again it happened with two outs. Dickey walked Chris Snyder before Gerardo Parra launched a long drive over the head of Beltran, who appeared to take a bad route to the ball. Parra wound up with a run-scoring triple on the play. Whether or not Beltran should have caught the ball was open to some debate.
“That’s kind of a loaded question,” Dickey said. “He covered it well and the ball carries here. That’s all I can say.”
When Beltran was asked if it was catchable ball, he shrugged.
“Who knows?” Beltran said. “That ball as soon as he hit it, I thought I was going to be able to make it. It just kept going and went over my head. I don’t feel pain. I’m just going out there not thinking about anything. Just going out and playing the game.”
Without directly saying it, Manuel also believes that Beltran is a little rusty in centerfield. But the manager has no plans to move him. The Mets will just have to deal with it.
“I think Carlos being back in the lineup is a good thing,” Manuel said. “But you never know what to expect when a guy comes back. I think we all see that he seems ahead of pace on the offensive side, but defensively, there’s been some issues on balls that we usually see Carlos Beltran get that he’s not getting.
“It will probably take time for him, like anybody else, and hopefully, we got enough of that left to do what we need to do.” With Parra at third, Enright hit a soft chopper toward David Wright, who charged in as Parra hustled for home nearly beside him.
Wright didn’t have a play at the plate, so he tried to throw across his body to get Enright for the third out. It was a desperate play and the throw was wide, allowing Parra to score what would be the winning run.