The Mets woke up on Wednesday morning without sole possession of first-place in the National League East for the first time since April 11 — a head-scratching development after holding on to a three-game lead by taking two of three from the MLB-best Los Angeles Dodgers last week.
Three consecutive losses to last-place teams, including Tuesday night’s 8-2 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates, have allowed the red-hot Atlanta Braves to get back in this thing and draw level with 26 games to go.
What was once a 10.5-game division lead for the Mets in June was mostly whittled down by the Braves’ incredible run that has seen them perform at a jaw-dropping 119-win pace since June 1 (62-24).
But the Mets’ offense of late has opened an already ajar door that much wider for Atlanta.
Over their last 13 games, New York is averaging just 2.9 runs per game including a combined four in their last three against the Washington Nationals and Pirates.
“It’s a period that catches your attention because they’ve been so good for so long over 100-and-some-odd-games,” manager Buck Showalter said. “So you always tip your hat to the opposition but our guys are frustrated right now because they know they’re capable of better.”
The drought has seen their offensive rank drop from fourth in the league in runs per game to seventh as the team starves for its marquee names to rediscover a groove at the dish.
Francisco Lindor is batting .167 over his last 12 games with just two RBI after setting the Mets’ single-season franchise record for most runs batted in by a shortstop.
Pete Alonso, the team’s most valuable slugger often hailed by Showalter as a meticulous student of the game, is batting just .175 over his last 21 games (80 at-bats) with just four extra-base hits.
“[Alonso is just] wanting something too much. I’m not going to ever criticize him for that,” Showalter said “He’s wanting to do everything for us which he’s done pretty much the whole season so that’s why it kind of sticks out. I feel for him because he’s grinding like heck and working like you’d expect Pete to work. That hadn’t happened for him and some of our other guys.”
There’s still ample time to turn things around considering the Mets have the easiest remaining schedule in the majors over the last three-and-a-half weeks of the season. But the Braves’ stellar play isn’t leaving much room for error — making the arrival of this offensive slump all the more unwelcome.
“We’ve done some things uncharacteristically that have hurt us but we just haven’t been able to mount much offensively,” Showalter lamented. “We’re just not getting that big blow.”
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