MILWAUKEE — Over nine excruciating innings, the Mets showcased the ills that have knocked their season off course, blowing a six-run lead en route to an 11-9 loss to the Brewers on Sunday afternoon.
The Mets led 7-1 through five innings and needed just nine more outs to avoid a three-game series sweep and put a positive end to what has been a dreadful week. But the Brewers knocked out starter Jacob deGrom after six-plus innings, then picked away at a beleaguered bullpen to make an implosion seem inevitable.
In the bottom of the eighth, Brewers catcher Manny Piña capped the comeback with a three-run homer against Addison Reed, who was punished for leaving a slider over the heart of the plate.
As the ball cleared the fence, Piña spiked his bat at the plate like a football, then hopped down the first-base line, the final act of humiliation in a trying week.
“You get up in the morning around here and you just don’t know what you’re going to face,” said manager Terry Collins, who in the last seven days has dealt with Matt Harvey’s latest fiasco and Jeurys Familia’s potential season-ending surgery.
Collins was still fuming after his ninth-inning argument with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, who ejected Neil Walker for arguing balls and strikes. But frustration boiled over from all corners of the clubhouse, from Walker grousing about the strike zone, to deGrom allowing four runs while failing to pitch deep into a game. Again, it caught up to the Mets.
“It’s time to start making pitches in those situations,” said deGrom, who allowed a leadoff hit in the seventh, before he was pulled with the Mets ahead 8-3. “I’m frustrated.”
Indeed, it has been 14 games since a member of the Mets rotation has logged more than six innings in a game. In that span, the starters have averaged 4 1⁄3 innings an outing with an ERA of 7.54. The fallout has been felt in the bullpen, which was tagged for seven runs in their final two innings.
Jerry Blevins took over with a runner on in the seventh and allowed Jonathan Villar’s two-run homer before walking Eric Thames. Fernando Salas arrived next. He allowed a run-scoring double to Jesus Aguilar that sliced the Mets’ lead to 8-6 before retiring the next three.
The Mets added another run in the eighth on T.J. Rivera’s triple to make it 9-6. Collins stuck with Salas to begin the frame. But the tiring righty walked Orlando Arcia to start the inning. Two batters later, Villar singled, bringing up the dangerous Thames with one out.
With Salas up to a season-high 38 pitches, Collins summoned the lefty specialist Josh Edgin, who plunked Thames on the elbow to load the bases. With no margin for error, Collins tasked Reed with a five-out save.
Hernan Perez poked a fastball to right, slicing the lead to 9-8. Reed looked to regain some semblance of control by striking out Aguilar. But Reed made a mistake to Piña, who did not miss.
“If I had an answer, I’d tell you,” said Reed, who allowed only four homers last season but has given up five in 18 2⁄3 innings this season. “I haven’t done anything different from last year.”
The Mets had not squandered a lead of six runs or more since July 2015, when Familia blew the save in the infamous Rain Game loss to the Padres. That was the nadir of a season that ended in a National League pennant.
There is no such guarantee of a turnaround on the horizon for these Mets, whose road trip continues with the start of a three-game series against the Diamondbacks on Monday. Arizona entered the day 15-7 at home.
“We have a clubhouse full of veterans,” Collins said. “They have all been through a game like this, they have all been through a series like this before.”
The Mets’ burned-out bullpen had a tough time yesterday against the Brewers.