SAN DIEGO — In the seventh inning of the Mets’ 3-2 loss Wednesday to the Padres, with the score tied and the Mets threatening with two men on and two outs, Mickey Callaway picked Todd Frazier to hit in the pitcher’s spot.
Frazier probably wasn’t the best pinch-hit option, but maybe the best non-catcher. After Tomas Nido struck out swinging at three straight pitches, Frazier did the same against San Diego’s Gerardo Reyes — who was appearing in his third major-league game — whiffing at the high-90s heat. The almost-rally was over, and Tyler Bashlor gave up a go-ahead homer to Hunter Renfroe in the bottom of the inning.
Two thousand and 70 miles away in Louisville, Kentucky, Dominic Smith had a free evening. He is in the minors for now, squeezed off the active roster to Triple-A Syracuse when the Mets decided last week to carry infielder Adeiny Hechavarria instead, despite Smith's success (.333/.459/.400) in a part-time role.
Hechavarria has been fine, going 2-for-11 with his usual sharp defense, but the seventh inning Wednesday would have been a primo spot for Smith: late innings, game on the line, lefthanded hitter against the righthander on the mound. Smith went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run for Syracuse earlier Wednesday.
“It would’ve been nice,” Callaway said of having a lefthanded pinch hitter. “But we have confidence in all of our guys. We didn’t get it done. We have to do better. What we’re doing right now is just not acceptable.”
The Mets’ problems indeed run far deeper than Smith’s roster status. They dropped to 17-20, losers of five out of six games on a trip through Milwaukee and San Diego. Aside from their seven-run outburst Tuesday, they have scored nine runs in seven games this month. On the season, they have been outscored by 27 runs, the fifth-worst total in baseball.
Callaway said the Mets aren’t frustrated.
“I wouldn’t classify it as frustration at all,” he said. “They know we’re better than what we’ve been showing. They’re going out there every day and trying to prove it. It’s just not materializing yet.”
Making a spot start in place of Steven Matz (radial nerve irritation), Wilmer Font performed about as well as the Mets could have expected in his team debut. He lasted four innings (60 pitches) and allowed two runs and three hits, walking none and striking out one.
Eric Hosmer homered off Font in the second, and Franmil Reyes blooped a tying single in the third.
For a second day in a row, the Mets struck in the first inning, when Amed Rosario singled in Jeff McNeil, who turned a bouncer that got past second baseman Ian Kinsler into a hustle double. Nido capped the Mets’ scoring with a homer in the second. Those came against Matt Strahm, who scattered six hits and a walk in 6 1/3 innings.
Padres centerfielder Manuel Margot robbed Pete Alonso of a homer with a nonchalant leaping grab above the wall in the sixth.
Nido’s decent day (2-for-4, .222) encouraged Callaway to stick with him in the ninth, leaving Wilson Ramos (.227) on the bench. The backup catcher struck out to end the game.
“Nido deserved to go up there and continue to swing the bat,” Callaway said. “We haven’t been scoring runs, and he allotted for half of our runs today.”
The bright side for the Mets: Their next 13 games are against the Marlins and struggling Nationals (followed by three against the rebuilding Tigers).
Things aren’t so bad, Michael Conforto said. They’re only 4 1/2 games back of the Phillies in the NL East.
“We’re relatively in a decent place,” Conforto said. “We have to start taking advantage of the opportunities that the other teams in this division are giving us.”