QUEENS — Things never seem to line up for slumping teams. If the pitching is good, the bats are cold. If the offense shows up, the arms struggle. For the Mets on Sunday, it was the bullpen’s turn to go belly-up.
Relievers Jimmy Yacabonis and Tommy Hunter were torched for seven runs on five hits, including a pair of two-run home runs to Kris Bryant and Brenton Doyle, in the fifth inning to doom the Mets in a 13-6 rubber-game loss in their series finale against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.
The Mets have now lost 11 of their last 14 games and are under .500 at 17-18 for the first time since April 5 when they were 3-4.
“We just have to play better,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I understand everyone’s job is to want reasons as to why… but we just have to play better. We control it. It’s not like there’s some outside element. We just have to play better.”
Pitching on three day’s rest, Joey Lucchesi went four innings on 70 pitches having allowed three runs on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks. He was actually lined up for the win after the Mets got one across in the fourth inning — which could have presented more with the bases loaded and one out — after Jeff McNeil drove in his second run of the day with a single to make it 4-3. The Mets had scored just four runs in their previous four games.
But Yacobonis walked Randal Grichuk to lead off the fifth inning before Bryant cannoned his fifth home run of the season over the left-field fence to put the Rockies in front. Ezequiel Tovar then doubled home CJ Cron and Ryan McMahon.
“I wasn’t in the zone early and my slider was backing up on me a little bit,” Yacabonis said. “I walked two guys and hung a slider. The next two hits were down the line. Some pieces of good hitting and some luck involved there.”
Hunter could do little to close up the floodgates when Austin Wynns drove home Tovar and Doyle cleared the bases with his first home run of the season over a hopeless McNeil, who watched it scrape over the right-field fence — the third round-tripper for the Rockies.
Grichuk got to Lucchesi early with a towering home run into the second deck of the left-field stands at Citi Field — his first of the season. It was the fifth time in six games that the Mets had allowed a first-inning run, but this time the offense had a response with three runs in the bottom of the frame.
“I just left it up,” Lucchesi said. “I was like ‘damn.’ He got me.”
Rockies starter Ryan Feltner walked the first two men he faced before McNeil drove home the tying run with a single to left, snapping an 0-for-11 personal skid and an 0-for-12 team drought with runners in scoring position against Colorado.
After Pete Alonso advanced runners to second and third with one out, Brett Baty snuck a single to right to score two. The Mets should have had a fourth when Luis Guillorme lined a two-out single to right, but before Baty could touch home plate, Daniel Vogelbach, who walked, was tagged out straying off second base after too aggressive of a turn.
“I wasn’t trying to make an out on the bases especially when you have a guy on the ropes like that,” Vogelbach said. “I regretted it all game. I watch it over and over again… I came off the bag trying to find the ball thinking it was going to go home… I barely came off the bag and by the time I looked up, the ball was on me and I couldn’t get back.”
Lucchesi surrendered the lead in the third when he yielded an RBI double to Jurickson Profar and a run-scoring single to Bryant.
“The one I would like to take back is the Profar double,” Lucchesi said. “I doubled up on sinkers down and away and felt like I should have mixed it up… he made me pay for. That’s probably the biggest thing.”
The Mets could only muster one run in the fourth inning despite having the bases loaded with one out. After McNeil drove home his second run of the day, Alonso was called out on strikes on a high pitch out of the strike zone and Baty grounded out to reliever Brent Suter, who mopped up Feltner’s mess and set the stage for the Rockies’ breakout fifth inning.
“Let’s say that strike three to me is called a ball as it should have been, then maybe the momentum doesn’t shift when they get to hit,” Alonso said. “It’s tough.”