Before the Mets concluded their 13-6 loss to the Rockies, before the remaining Citi Field crowd marked late-inning failures with periodic boos, before relievers Jimmy Yacabonis and Tommy Hunter gave up seven runs in a game-turning fifth inning, Daniel Vogelbach ruined his Sunday — and maybe the Mets’ — with a baserunning flub.
The Mets already had scored three runs in the first inning, matching half of their season total for the inning. Rockies righthander Ryan Feltner had walked three batters and thrown 32 pitches.
Luis Guillorme lined a single to rightfield, seemingly bringing in another run and pushing Feltner toward the single-inning pitch total at which teams tend to pull a pitcher.
Finally, after days of acute offensive futility, the Mets were breaking out.
Rightfielder Kris Bryant fired the ball to shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, who tagged Vogelbach, who had wandered past second base. The inning ended and that would-be fourth run was waved off by plate umpire Marvin Hudson, who ruled that Brett Baty did not cross the plate before Colorado recorded the final out.
“I regretted it all game,” Vogelbach said. “I watched it over and over again. It was kind of a freak thing . . . I messed up. We were having good at-bats. We had the guy on the ropes. You look back and if I don’t make that play, who knows where the game goes?”
Vogelbach explained that he had stepped off the bag, toward third base, and looked for Bryant’s throw, which he assumed would be to the plate. He thought maybe he could advance to third if the ball bounced away. That Bryant threw it in his direction came as a surprise.
“Kris made kind of a heads-up play,” Vogelbach said of his former Cubs minor-league teammate. “I barely came off the bag. By the time I looked, the ball was on me and I couldn’t get back.”
Buck Showalter said: “Obviously, it was a mistake.”
Vogelbach characterized that moment as typical of the Mets’ recent poor play: Anything that can go wrong is going wrong.
They are 17-18 after losing two in a row, five of six and 11 of 14. They also have lost four consecutive series, including three to losing teams. They haven’t won one since a mid-April meeting with the Dodgers.
“Just play better,” Showalter said. “We control it. It’s not like there’s some outside element. Just play better. It’s not really quite as difficult as some people may perceive it . . . There’s a lot of things I could say, but it sounds like excuses. And we’re not going there. Play better. That goes for all of us. Our guys know that.”
The Mets actually held two leads over the Rockies (14-21) and blew the second in particularly thorough fashion.
In relief of lefthander Joey Lucchesi — who allowed three runs in four innings while pitching on short rest for the first time in his career — Yacabonis faced six batters and retired one of them. Bryant crushed a two-run homer. Tovar sneaked a weak ground ball down the first-base line for a two-run double.
Hunter immediately gave up RBI hits to the last two hitters in Colorado’s order, Austin Wynns (single) and Brenton Doyle (first homer of his career).
Officially, the game was only half complete after the nightmare top of the fifth. Realistically, though, it was over.
“When the game challenges you like this, it’s easy to separate, easy to start pointing fingers,” Vogelbach said. “But this group doesn’t do that. It’s not from a lack of want and it’s not from a lack of work. I’ve got all the faith in the world that we’re going to be just fine.”
Feltner wound up allowing one additional run, for four total, in 3 1⁄3 innings. Brent Suter inherited his bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth but allowed only one run to score.
The key moment in that sequence: a called third strike on Alonso on a changeup off the plate.
The next half-inning was when the Mets’ bullpen imploded.
“Let’s say the strike three to me is called a ball, as it should’ve been, maybe the momentum doesn’t shift when they get to hit,” Alonso said.
Vogelbach said: “Some balls just don’t bounce our way. Some good at-bats that don’t end the way that we want to. But that’s the game. It’s probably not going to be the last time that something like this goes on this season. I’m not very good at math, but we have a lot of games left.”