KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With little to play for but dignity, self-respect and arbitration cases, the Mets lost again Thursday to finish a series that challenged for their ugliest of the season.
In dropping the finale with the Royals, 9-2, the Mets got swept by the team with the second-worst record in the majors — one of their competitors, actually, in the inglorious jockeying of positioning for the draft lottery, the opposite of the playoff chase.
Francisco Lindor’s two-run home run with two outs in the ninth saved them from what would have been a second consecutive shutout. Before the final frame, the Mets had three hits: two from Pete Alonso, one from Mark Vientos, none from the rest.
The day and the series did not inspire confidence about how the last two months of this lost season will look.
“The energy was a little down,” Lindor said. “That comes with the territory, the first days of the unexpected, we didn’t know what was happening. But we gotta turn the page. That’s not an excuse. They played better than us. Hopefully we come out with a little more energy and better vibes in Baltimore. Because that’s a really good team. If we don’t step up, it’s going to be even worse than how it was here.”
Manager Buck Showalter said: “Our guys are motivated. They have a lot of professional pride. When you’re not pitching real well, you can look that way.”
Showalter lamented before the game mistakes from the previous one — an inadequate secondary lead that cost them a run, botched tag plays. When the Mets (50-58) took the field again, more of the same ensued.
Rightfielder DJ Stewart turned a catchable fly ball into an RBI double for Salvador Perez in the first inning. In the third, third baseman Brett Baty lost a pop-up in the sun because his sunglasses were on his hat, not on his face. Lindor caught the ball instead.
“We’ve had some careless plays,” Showalter said. “But we’re running seven or eight guys out there that this is kind of a new level for them. Hopefully they’ll grow from their mistakes.”
When the Royals, 35-75 and winners of six straight, built a three-run lead in the third inning, the game felt over.
“We gotta rely on our leaders and bring the energy every day,” Jeff McNeil said. “It’s definitely different than before, but we still gotta show up and play every day and be professionals.”
Shutting down the Mets this time was righthander Brady Singer, who entered with a 5.46 ERA. He held them to three hits in eight innings, striking out four and walking none.
Carlos Carrasco’s latest bad start actually was an upgrade over his most recent ones. He pitched six-plus innings and allowed six runs and eight hits, registering zero strikeouts and one walk.
His line looked fine until the bottom of the seventh, when he threw four pitches and gave up three hits, including Drew Waters’ three-run home run.
“It looked like he was going to not be able to go very deep, then he battled his way through there,” Showalter said.
Carrasco said: “Every time I go out there, I’m trying to do my best. And that’s what I did today.”
Carrasco has a 6.60 ERA on the season and a 12.33 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break.
“It’s one of those years that it’s really bad,” Carrasco said. “I’m trying to figure out I can get it unbad.”