For the fourth consecutive game the Mets showed no life at the plate. And if they don’t pull it together and avoid a sweep against the last-place Marlins on Sunday in Miami, it’s possible Mickey Callaway is 27 outs away from managing his final game for the Mets.
The Mets offense scraped just one hit across nine innings – facing a Marlins pitcher they punished for 10 runs over three innings just eight days ago. Right-hander Pablo Lopez struck out seven batters and walked just two while plowing through the lineup and stifling Mets bats.
Callaway’s hot seat was scorching as the Mets lost their fourth straight game in a 2-0 shutout to the Marlins on Saturday afternoon in Miami. The brutal loss marked the first time the Mets (20-24) dropped to four games under .500 this season.
“As a leader, you can’t ever worry about yourself,” Callaway said to reporters in Miami. “Selfless service is very important to me. My goal every day it to improve that room, be consistent and make sure our players continue to improve.
“I believe those things for the right reasons, because I do believe we have talent in there. I feel like everybody comes to the park every day for something greater than what has been happening.”
Saturday afternoon was the first time the Mets recorded just one hit since last year on Sept. 22 against the Nationals.
When Callaway was asked if he’s received warning signs in regards to his job security from the Mets front office in Fred and Jeff Wilpon along with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets skipper was to the point.
“I’m coming in tomorrow to manage the New York Mets and I’m going to be enthusiastic about it and I’m going to continue to lead this team to something special,” Callaway said.
Steven Matz made his return off the 10-day injured list and was already on an 80 pitch limit, but he couldn’t make it to four innings after a destructive opening frame.
Miami’s leadoff hitter Jon Berti crushed a solo homer to right field off Matz in the first inning. Berti was the first batter Matz faced since May 3 after missing two starts and being sidelined with a nerve irritation in his left forearm. Matz walked away from the first inning having tossed 26 pitches.
Matz completed his eighth start of the season allowing two earned runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts over 3.2 innings against the Marlins on Saturday. Matz’s team-best ERA remained under 4.00, but swelled to 3.96 after the disappointing afternoon in Miami.
“I don’t think the results have been there,” Callaway said. “I think they come to play every day, I truly do. Wins don’t necessarily mean they’re not playing with urgency. Losses don’t necessarily mean they’re playing with urgency.”
Jeff McNeil represented the Mets first – and only – hit of the game on, incidentally, the first pitch of the matinee from Lopez. McNeil sliced a single to left field in the first inning and highlighted one of the Mets best at-bats of the season in the sixth inning.
The 27-year-old battled against Lopez with one out in the sixth and refused to let the Marlins starter win the war. McNeil fouled off pitch after pitch until finally, 12 pitches later, earning a walk to put a runner on base.
As has been the case with the offensively unproductive Mets of late, the lineup could not cash McNeil in. Amed Rosario approached the plate going 1 for his last 14 at-bats and grounded into a double play to end the inning. The Mets went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left two men on base Saturday.
Nine of Matz’s 17 earned runs have come in the first inning. He struggled in the fourth after giving up a leadoff single to Jorge Alfaro. Matz struck out the next two batters, but decided to intentionally walk Miguel Rojas to get to the pitcher. Lopez singled to load the bases and Callaway had seen enough.
Right-handed reliever Tyler Bashlor shut the inning down by striking out Berti on three pitches and keeping the Marlins at bay.
The Mets lineup showed no effort even as the bullpen silenced Miami. A combination of Bashlor, Robert Gsellman and Edwin Diaz pitched 4.1 scoreless innings and recorded four strikeouts.