BALTIMORE — The Mets’ new players have not arrived yet. Neither has the energy Brodie Van Wagenen hopes they will bring.
A day after reacquiring Todd Frazier and also adding Robinson Chirinos and Miguel Castro — and a day before they join the team — the Mets dropped the series opener to the Orioles, 9-5, for their fifth consecutive loss. That matches their longest such streak of the season.
The Mets, at 15-21, are a season-worst six games under .500.
“When we lose, it hurts for everyone in that room. It just hurts,” manager Luis Rojas said. “They feel every loss. But at the same time, they have the ability to bounce back, so the conversations are easy with the group ... So it’s not that hard to stay motivated.”
What began as an unofficial referendum on the Mets’ two spot starter options, Ariel Jurado and Franklyn Kilome, ended with both pitching poorly. Jurado allowed five runs and nine hits in four innings. After the Mets tied it on Andres Gimenez’s first career homer, Kilome gave up four runs and five hits in three innings.
With an overworked bullpen after playing six games the previous four days, Rojas had little choice but to stick with them.
“We trusted them in giving us length,” Rojas said. “They just didn’t do a good job. They left some pitches up in the zone, up where they cannot be effective and they were driven.”
Orioles first baseman Renato Nunez (four RBIs) had a homer off each. The top four in the Baltimore batting order had two hits apiece, and No. 8 hitter Pat Valaika went 4-for-4.
Making his Mets debut, Jurado entered with a 5.85 career ERA and pitched like it. He was the 10th starting pitcher the Mets have used in 36 games this season, passing their total of nine in 162 games last year.
Three of the first four Orioles hitters scored on Nunez’s first-inning homer to centerfield. They added a pair of runs in the second, when bottom-of-the-order hitters Valaika and Andrew Velazquez singled to open the frame.
Jurado got through the third and fourth innings without allowing a run.
“I just wasn’t able to really recognize the strike zone earlier on in the game,” he said through an interpreter.
Acquired from the Rangers on Aug. 5 for a player to be named and cash, Jurado was pitching because the Mets needed a spot start following their crunch of recent doubleheaders. With Corey Oswalt on the injured list and Walker Lockett cut (and claimed by the Mariners), the options were in effect Jurado or Kilome, a starter by trade who has been a long reliever in his first taste of major-league action this year.
Asked why Jurado over Kilome, Rojas cited the facts that Jurado is stretched out (at the alternate training site), has started in the majors before (26 times in two seasons with Texas) and faced Baltimore last year (six innings, three runs).
“We’re definitely excited to see him,” Rojas said before the game.
The Mets’ pitching pain continued when Kilome entered. The half-inning after Gimenez tied it, the Orioles re-took the lead when Rio Ruiz worked a leadoff walk, advanced to second on Kilome’s wild pitch and scored on Valaika’s double. Anthony Santander’s line drive reached the seats in right-centerfield for a two-out, two-run homer.
“It’s definitely always tough when you make that push and then all of a sudden, next inning, we lose it,” Rojas said. “Those are one of the things that as a pitcher you just gotta come in and execute and shut the opposing team down. That wasn’t the case tonight.”
Gimenez, echoing his manager, said the Mets aren’t panicking.
“We should just come in relaxed,” Gimenez said through an interpreter, “and trust that we have a good team.”