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Overanxious Mets hitters go from heroes to zeros

The New York Mets' Michael Cuddyer takes off

The New York Mets' Michael Cuddyer takes off his bating gloves after striking out in the bottom of the eighth inning during a game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on Sunday, May 3, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Mets hadn't scored since Friday night, and now it was well into Sunday afternoon at Citi Field. But there were two guys in scoring position with one out in the last of the eighth, a gold-plated opportunity to push across the tying run and maybe even seize the lead against the nemesis Nationals.

Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer, 3-4 in the order, do your thing.

But lefty Matt Thornton got Duda to chase a slider for strike three. Then righty Aaron Barrett got Cuddyer to chase a slider for strike three, although he tried to check his swing.

This wasn't what Terry Collins had in mind. And Washington edged the Mets, 1-0, for the second straight day to take three of four in the series.

So when was the last time the Mets dropped back-to-back 1-0 games to the same team? April 17 and 18, 1973, against the Cubs at Shea Stadium.

The Mets went on to the World Series that year. But while they're still in first place this season, their offense sure hasn't looked postseason-worthy of late.

The Nationals have a staff that can make players look silly with a bat in their hands, but this offensive downturn has been going on, for the most part, since the Mets' 11-game winning streak reached its conclusion.

The Mets scored four or fewer runs in nine of the last 10 games and three or fewer runs seven times. They have lost five of six and seven of 10 since the streak ended, falling to 16-10.

What's the problem?

"You're seeing guys swinging at balls out of the zone pretty consistently through the lineup," Collins said. "We're swinging at a lot of balls in the dirt, two strikes."

Certainly, David Wright's strained hamstring and Travis d'Arnaud's broken finger have hurt the cause.

"Obviously, we miss them a lot," Cuddyer said. "They're huge parts of our team. But we won without them last week. This week, we just didn't get the big hit."

The Mets hit .174 with runners in scoring position in this series, including .000 -- 0-for-7 -- in the finale. Cuddyer pointed out that this is normal in the course of a season, saying, "You go through periods where you just don't get that big hit."

Gio Gonzalez left four in scoring position in Saturday's seven-inning start. Doug Fister followed that up by letting only two Mets reach second in his 61/3 innings. Tanner Roark stranded the second one for him.

"The other guys get paid, too," Daniel Murphy said. "They threw the ball well the last two days, as our guys did, too. We just didn't capitalize on a couple of opportunities, myself included."

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