“I don’t think we just forgot how to play baseball or forgot how to hit,” said right fielder Jay Bruce, who collected two of the Mets’ hits. He added, “We won nine games in a row this year. That team is not gone. We have to figure out a way to get that back.”
After searching for answers to the hitting malaise by examining the team’s pregame hitting routines or toying with the lineup, Mets Manager Mickey Callaway is considering another strategy: encouraging his team, one built around home runs but producing few right now, to be aggressive base runners or even bunt to beat the defensive shift. Brandon Nimmo tried to do exactly that in the eighth inning, but the scoring chance was erased when Asdrubal Cabrera grounded into a double play.
“We have to try and create some runs,” Callaway said.
The starting pitching has been a strength of late, and Jason Vargas continued that trend by allowing two runs over five innings on Tuesday — but that was all the Orioles needed against the Mets’ offense.
In their returns, Swarzak fired a scoreless ninth inning and Frazier went 0 for 4. Two players alone, however, cannot turn these struggling Mets around. Two aspects of Frazier’s game were missed most during the first disabled list stint of his career: his ability to get on base and his defense. In his absence, the Mets primarily used a mixture of Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and the rookie Luis Guillorme. They hit a combined .219 with one home run in Frazier’s absence. And when Flores, who is out with a back injury, and Reyes played, the defense was jagged.
The Mets also missed Frazier’s animated personality, especially during this lethargic stretch.
“We missed him just being on the bench, even when he wasn’t playing, because he brings so much energy,” Callaway said.