DENVER — For the second straight game, Terry Collins found himself at odds with an umpire for a judgment call that stung the Mets. But one day after earning an ejection and the fine that will soon follow, the manager hardly uttered a word.
He listened to the explanation from second-base umpire Rob Drake, who insisted that Juan Lagares deviated from the base path.
The ruling led to an inning-ending double play in the eighth that squashed the Mets’ best chance to rally. It was not reviewable. So, Collins slumped his shoulders, shook his head, and trudged back to the dugout.
“Look, he made the call, it doesn’t matter what it’s going to do,” Collins said after the Mets’ 4-3 loss to the Rockies on Sunday. “You [can’t] challenge it. So, it’s over. Let’s go. Move on.”
The conclusion of a grueling 11-game West Coast swing brought a three-game sweep to the Rockies, a four-game losing streak for the Mets, a 1 1⁄2-game deficit in the standings to the Nationals, and a lackluster 4-7 record. Indeed, the Mets couldn’t wait to move on.
“You won’t hear anybody in here complaining about it,” veteran second baseman Neil Walker said of the brutal schedule, which included 17 straight games until Monday’s off day. “We knew the schedule going into it. We know this was going to be a grind-it-out kind road trip.”
Yet, with the exception of starter Jacob deGrom, the Mets showed little stomach for grinding it out. They averaged only 2.9 runs per game on the trip. Even in the thin air of Coors Field, the Mets didn’t take advantage.
“When you don’t do it, you gotta figure you’re going to be in trouble here,” Collins said.
Once more, with a fastball hovering in the low 90s, and breaking pitches that were merely ordinary, deGrom endured the mentally taxing exercise of working without his best stuff.
In 6 1⁄3 innings, deGrom was charged with three runs, giving the Mets a chance to win even as he worked around a Michael Conforto misplay in leftfield that led to a run.
“It’s a little easier whenever you can throw 97 and miss in the middle once in awhile,” said deGrom, who like the Mets, is waiting for his fastball to resurface. “But when you’re not feeling the greatest, you have to bear down and locate a little bit more.”
In the seventh, with a runner on second, one out and the Mets clinging to a 3-2 lead, Jim Henderson entered in relief. He had been tough on righties and had yet to allow a home run. But righty pinch hitter Ryan Raburn hammered a wayward fastball over the right-centerfield fence.
“Anything in the air has got a chance,” Henderson said. “And once I saw the trajectory of it, it was gone.”
Just like that, RBI singles by deGrom and Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes’ 11th homer were rendered meaningless.
The Mets stirred in the ninth against Jake McGee with a two-out single by Eric Campbell. Pinch hitter David Wright bounced into a force to end it. But the Mets’ best chance to rally had passed an inning before.
In the eighth, Lagares came off the bench to deliver a one-out double off Rockies lefty Boone Logan. With first base open, Cespedes was walked so Logan could face Lucas Duda, who was 1-for-23 against southpaws.
Duda hit a cue-shot grounder to Arenado at third. He swiped at a sidestepping Lagares, missed on the tag attempt, then fired across the diamond to get Duda. Behind third base, umpire Carlos Torres, who ejected Collins the previous night, called Lagares safe.
But Drake, the second-base umpire, waved his arms, signaling that Lagares had left the base path. Duda’s groundout was now an inning-ending double play.
“What am I supposed to do,” Lagares said. “Hold him?”
Yet, despite Lagares’ confusion and Collins’ anger, the exasperated and exhausted Mets (21-16) boarded their charter as losers of five of their last six. The biggest series of the season thus far — a three-game set against the Nationals beginning Tuesday — comes after a final twist of the knife.
“You keep playing hard,” Lagares said. “There’s nothing we can do about that.”