It was another day when Mets pitchers' hearts were sinking but their pitches weren't. The expected consequence was a 9-4 battering by the Philadelphia Phillies, who feasted on the Mets' juicy offerings for 12 hits Saturday in sending the Mets to their third straight loss and fourth in five games.
Philadelphia already had ruined the delayed season debut of Shaun Marcum with a three-run third inning, erasing a 1-0 Mets lead, when matters went completely awry for reliever Robert Carson in the fifth.
After Jimmy Rollins' leadoff double and a one-out walk to Michael Young, Carson was buffeted by Ryan Howard's stinging RBI single and back-to-back orbit-seeking homers by Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. The Mayberry blow, in fact, came one pitch after Brown completed his three-RBI tour of the bases.
"I missed with my slider -- up and in -- and Brown hammered it, as we all saw," Carson said. "Then I tried to get the fastball in and Mayberry just ambushed it and got it over the wall. If I miss with my location, that will happen."
Even the Philadelphia outs, right from the outset, often were well-struck. Howard's two-out drive in the first inning pinned Lucas Duda to the leftfield wall before he made the catch, and Humberto Quintero's hot two-out grounder in the second required David Wright's full-length stretch to smother it. (That, after Mets catcher John Buck threw out Mayberry on an attempted steal to aid Marcum's cause.)
Then came the third: Consecutive singles by winning pitcher Jonathan Pettibone (1-0) and Rollins set up an RBI for Chase Utley, who bounced a ground-rule double over the fence in left-centerfield. Marcum (0-1) followed with a wild pitch for another run and Howard cracked a long sacrifice fly to left.
"I wasn't tired or anything," said Marcum, 31, recovering from nerve inflammation and biceps tendinitis. "But I wasn't very efficient with my pitches. I've got to locate, keep the ball down, and most of my pitches were up, especially the one to Chase." Marcum was removed for a pinch hitter in the fourth.
The man who best mirrors the 10-12 Mets' flailing to tread the waters of mediocrity, Ike Davis (.176 average), had sneaked a two-base hit inside the first-base line and scored on Jordany Valdespin's double to give the Mets their second-inning lead. But Philadelphia's immediate three-run answer emphasized the Mets' recent vulnerability and doubt.
When Davis was given a bases-loaded, none-out opportunity in the fourth, the best he could do was a sacrifice fly for a single run. By the time Wright doubled for another run in the fifth, the Mets were down by six. Buck's solo homer in the ninth, the Mets' only hit after the fifth inning, wasn't going to change things.
"We aren't playing that badly," said Buck, who leads the team with eight home runs. "It's the one or two big innings that are hurting us."
It might have been worse, too, if not for Ruben Tejada's full-out diving catch of Mayberry's liner in the seventh to save a run.
Mets manager Terry Collins was asked if he had any message for his players after the game. "I don't talk to them every night," he said. "That's football stuff. We play every day. They don't need to hear anything. They're aware of the situation. We've just got to rise up."
He meant the team. Not their pitches.