MILWAUKEE -- Whatever fire and brimstone manager Terry Collins tried to instill in the Mets before Wednesday's game did not take. Whatever message he delivered did not translate into hits, runs or newfound defensive wizardry. Whatever Collins hoped to accomplish with a rare team meeting in the Miller Park visitor's clubhouse, he could not.
Instead, the Mets tumbled deeper into their doldrums against one of the National League's worst teams, dropping a seventh straight game for the first time since April 2011. Their 4-1 loss to the Brewers contained all the elements that have characterized this streak as a whole: adequate pitching, mental errors on defense and virtually no offense whatsoever. At the end of it, the Mets sunk under .500 for the first time since they were 2-3.
Since their franchise-record 11-game winning streak ended on April 24, the Mets' 23-34 record is tied for baseball's second-worst.
"It's really bad and frustrating for everybody," starting pitcher Bartolo Colon said.
Outside of a Curtis Granderson leadoff homer in the fourth inning, the Mets never threatened against Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson, who came into the night with a 6.86 ERA over his previous four starts. And while Colon did not pitch poorly for the Mets, allowing four runs in six innings, he did contribute to their recent defensive malaise. With two outs and the bases empty in the fifth inning, Colon was slow to cover first base on a grounder to the right side, resulting in an infield single for Ryan Braun. He proceeded to give up two more hits in succession, gifting the Brewers a two-run lead.
"That all of the sudden gets blown out of proportion because we can't make up for it," Collins said. "It gets blown out of proportion because we can't score."
Given the current state of New York's offense, Milwaukee's lead did seem -- and turned out to be -- insurmountable. Nelson retired six straight Mets to open the game, eight straight after Granderson's homer and seven in a row to end his night. The Mets totaled two hits and a walk off him. Until there were two outs in the ninth, one other than Granderson advanced past first base.
Afterward, Collins deflected a question about the front office declining to add hitters from outside the organization after David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Travis d'Arnaud all landed on the disabled list, saying that he's "not going to point any fingers," and that the losing streak "falls on my shoulders." But it's clear that the Mets, playing without perhaps their three best offensive weapons, are more than a managerial decision or two away from success. Averaging 1.3 runs per night on this road trip, they have plated one or fewer runs five times in seven games. And only Murphy is due back anytime soon.
"If the front office decides to make a move or decides not to, there's a reason for that," Granderson said. "I'm not sure exactly what their reasoning for it one way or the other is, but I'm happy with what we've got here."
Collins has no choice but to feel the same way, prompting the type of pregame meeting that he tends to save for the rarest of occasions.
"Just to relax," was Collins' message, in his own words. "We're going through a tough time. Unfortunately, every team does it. We're disappointed where we're at. But you know what? It's where we are. So we've got to move on. We're still in the hunt. We win five or six in a row and all of a sudden things look a lot different. We can't get down about it. We've got to move forward."
After yet another loss, the manager sang a similar song.
"What these guys need to understand is we've got to pull together," Collins said. "We've got to rally and get tougher. We've got to play tougher. We're not playing good, and yet we're not buried either."