NEW YORK — With a pair of National League West also-rans visiting Citi Field, this was supposed to be a week in which the New York Mets made up ground in the National League wild card race. But now the San Diego Padres can finish what the Arizona Diamondbacks started and force the Mets into wait-'til-next-year mode once again.
The reeling Mets attempt to remain on the periphery of the playoff race beginning Friday when the Padres visit Citi Field for the opener of a three-game series.
The Diamondbacks, who are in last place in the NL West, completed a three-game sweep of the Mets on Thursday with a 9-0 rout. The Padres, who are in fourth place in the NL West, fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 in the rubber game of a three-game series in Pittsburgh.
The Mets were outscored 17-5 and gave up 13 stolen bases — the most in franchise history during a three-game series — in being swept by Arizona. New York fell to 57-57 and three games behind the idle Miami Marlins in the race for the NL's second wild card.
The Mets, who are .500 for the first time since April 20, are 10-19 in their last 29 games, a stretch in which they have not won back-to-back games.
“Sometimes in this game, you just get beat,” Mets utilityman Kelly Johnson said. “Sometimes you're just not lucky. You need a little bit of both — getting the job done, a little bit of luck, a little bit of everything sometimes. And right now we're just kind of sliding and not getting much of (anything).”
Johnson and his teammates got an earful Thursday afternoon from manager Terry Collins, who followed up a fiery press conference in which he appeared to question his players' effort by closing the locker room for a meeting that lasted nearly 20 minutes.
“I know one thing: There's got to be a passion to come and play, there's got to be a sense of this is what I do for a living — the people that pay to see me play are going to see my best effort,” Collins said. “You're going to get beat, and you're going to get beat bad sometimes. But you need to pick yourself up and move on. That's what baseball players do.”
The speedy Padres, who rank third in the major leagues with 99 stolen bases, present a challenge for the Mets, whose catchers have thrown out only 30 of 132 opposing baserunners.
The Padres (49-65) have stolen four bases in a game three times in their last 10 contests. On Wednesday, outfielder Travis Jankowski stole home for the second time this month.
“We run the bases with a ton of aggression,” Padres manager Andy Green said “We steal a lot of bases — not always home — but we take what's there for us.”
Mets right-hander Logan Verrett (3-7, 4.66 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Padres right-hander Paul Clemens (1-2, 4.61) on Friday. Verrett gave up two runs (one earned) in two innings of relief in his lone career appearance against San Diego on May 5. Clemens faces New York for the first time.