ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was only 10 days ago, if anyone can believe it.
Ten days since the Mets left for this long, long West Coast trip, hoping to prove their mettle while holding on to a healthy 10 1⁄2-game lead in the NL East, their biggest cushion of the season.
Atlanta was underperforming and the Phillies were a few days away from firing manager Joe Girardi in a desperate effort to turn things around. If there was a good time for this team to face a brutal California gantlet, this would be it.
But even with all that, this is still a pretty remarkable swing.
It’s not that the Mets have been uniformly bad, even with their 11-6 loss to the Angels on Saturday night. It’s that Atlanta and the Phillies have been that good, going on winning streaks of 10 and nine games while the Mets have muddled through. They’re 4-5 in a stretch in which their starting pitching has suffered, their players have gotten injured and their lineup sometimes has faltered.
It’s the fourth time they’ve lost by at least five runs during this trip, including a 13-2 rout by the Padres on Wednesday, their most lopsided defeat of the year.
With one game left for the Mets on the West Coast, Atlanta is within 5 1⁄2 games and the Phillies are within eight.
"I think we pay attention to the way we play here," losing pitcher Carlos Carrasco said of the diminishing lead in the standings. "We just take care of how we play here. We don't try to think about those games. We've just got to continue to play hard and we just take care of everything here and everything will come together."
The Angels came into the day having lost 15 of their last 16, but Saturday marked the return of Mike Trout, who hit two homers. He hadn’t played since Tuesday because of a groin injury.
Jared Walsh hit for the cycle and drove in three runs. And then there was Shohei Ohtani to deal with, and the constant reminder that the Angels, despite their recent swoon, have everything it takes to make opponents pay. And did they ever: Trout had the 23rd multi-homer game of his career, Ohtani added a homer and an RBI double, and each had three RBIs. The Angels hit five home runs off Carrasco, Jake Reed and Chasen Shreve.
"I've just got to tip my hat," Carrasco said of Ohtani and Trout. "Those two guys are some of the best in baseball."
Walsh singled in the third, doubled in the fifth, homered in the seventh and tripled in the eighth for the ninth cycle in Angels history and the first since Ohtani did it in 2018.
Carrasco (7-2) allowed five runs, nine hits and a walk in 4 2⁄3 innings, striking out seven. He lost for the first time since April 27. Mets starters have pitched to a 5.74 ERA since Max Scherzer landed on the injured list on May 19.
Meanwhile, the same offense that managed 13 hits a night earlier sputtered against Michael Lorenzen, who allowed one run, six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 6 1⁄3 innings.
Pete Alonso hit his 17th homer, a solo shot in the eighth inning, and Khalil Lee hit a three-run shot with two outs in a four-run ninth. Alonso has 123 career homers, putting him one short of Todd Hundley for No. 9 on the Mets’ list.
Ohtani doubled home a run and scored on Anthony Rendon’s double down the leftfield line in the first.
Trout golfed a low changeup to left-center for a solo home run and a 3-0 lead in the third.
With Ohtani at second and two outs, Walsh lined a single to rightfield, but Jeff McNeil fired home and easily cut down Ohtani at the plate.
After Trout doubled with one out in the fifth, Ohtani blasted Carrasco’s first-pitch slider to right for a two-run shot and a 5-0 advantage.
Reed gave up a solo home run by former Yankee Andrew Velazquez in the sixth, walked Marsh and floated a middle-in, 80.3-mph slider to Trout, who eviscerated it for a two-run homer and an 8-0 lead.
The Mets finally scored off Lorenzen in the seventh on Mark Canha’s RBI single, but Shreve gave up a solo home run by Walsh to make it 9-1.
Walsh added his two-RBI triple off Trevor Williams in the eighth to make it 11-2 — a hit that was aided by Lee unsuccessfully diving for the ball in center.