Mets have company atop NL East after Bats falter in third straight loss

Mets have company atop NL East after Bats falter in third straight loss

PITTSBURGH — By the time Oneil Cruz punctuated the Pirates’ 8-2 victory Tuesday with a late home run in the Allegheny River, the Mets had already taken enough punishment at PNC Park. The truth is, Cruz’s home run — memorable as it was — didn’t matter much, because the Mets couldn’t score enough for it to count.

It was not an isolated incident. Over their last 13 games, the Mets have averaged 2.9 carries per game, placing them in the bottom five at Majors over that streak. And while this offense was never designed to blast teams night after night, this recent cold snap has come at a most inopportune time: The Mets have lost three straight games to last-place clubs, falling to flat during a streak that seemed designed to help them pull away from the Braves in the National League East.

Instead, the Mets left the stadium Tuesday on the verge of losing sole possession of the top spot for the first time since early April. And a few hours later, the Braves defeated the A’s in Oakland, taking a share of first place.

“We just haven’t been able to step up much offensively,” manager Buck Showalter said.

There is no single culprit, no hitter to blame. At the top and bottom of the range, concerns exist. Such as:

Two of the Mets’ most promising scoring chances on Tuesday came early, as they put two runners on base in the first and third innings. Each time, Alonso bounced back in a double play to end the rally.

With those two murders under his belt, Alonso has sunk deeper into a crisis that has plagued him since mid-August. The beating heart of New York’s offense in the first 100 games of the season, Alonso has seen his OPS drop 68 points over the past month. He has only hit three home runs in his last 129 plate appearances after averaging one for every 15.4 trips to plate up to that point. Over the past week things have only gotten worse, as Alonso fell into a 2 for 25 funk.

It doesn’t help that No. 3 hitter Francisco Lindor fare only marginally better, with a .167/.300/.190 slant line and one extra hit in his last 12 games. But the Mets rely so heavily on Alonso, their best power hitter and their most potent late-game weapon.

“He just wants something too much,” Showalter said. “I’m never going to criticize him for that. Pete wants to do everything for us, which he has done almost all season. That’s why it stands out. I feel for him, because he works like crazy and works like you would expect him to work. It just didn’t happen to him.

2. The team’s Trade Deadline acquisitions aren’t either

Much ink was spilled in early August on the Mets agreements for Daniel Vogelbach, Tyler Naquin and Darin Ruf. Through Aug. 11, these three were batting a combined .348 with five homers and 15 extra hits in 89 at-bats for their new team.

Since then, Vogelbach, Naquin and Ruf have hit .109 with two home runs and six extra hits in 110 at-bats. Ruf is 1 for 24 with nine strikeouts in his last 11 games. Vogelbach has had just one hit in 20 at-bats over his last nine games. Naquin is 3 for 33 with 17 strikeouts since his last home run.

The Mets refused to acquire a bigger-name hitter — like Willson Contreras, Trey Mancini or even Juan Soto — at the trade deadline, believing in the bones of their squad strategy. It worked once, and maybe it will work again, but right now the lack of production from this trio is shocking.

It should be noted that if Marte misses a lot of time due to the pitch hitting him on the right hand in the first inning, Naquin believes he will receive the lion’s share of batting substitutions – further incentive for the Mets to make amends. what afflicts him. . Marte has been one of the few regular hitters for the Mets this season, posting an OPS no lower than .742 in a full month since April.

The Mets will learn more about Marte’s status on Wednesday, but one thing is clear: They can ill afford an extended absence from one of their most productive hitters.

“I hope,” Marte said through an interpreter, “I can recover quickly.”

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