Mets looking to lighten things up

After snapping scoreless streak, club wants to 'enjoy the game'

Mets looking to lighten things up

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins is out of ideas. He's tried shuffling the lineup, leaving his pitchers in to hit and playing a spattering of new faces. Nothing's worked -- the Mets' offense is still struggling.

It's getting to a point Collins said he's never seen before, and he's willing to try anything.

"The only thing left is human sacrifice," Collins joked after another loss, this one 6-1 to the Cubs on Thursday at Citi Field.

The Mets had gone 22 2/3 consecutive innings without a run before Curtis Granderson doubled home Jacob deGrom in the third inning Thursday. That broke the seal. Now, they just have to work on scoring enough to win.

Granderson's RBI double

An offensive explosion it was not. From that point on, the Mets were held to two hits as the steady descent to a .500 record came to an end. The Mets, who two weeks ago led the NL East by a game and a half, are now 40-40 on the season, staring up at the Nationals in the division.

They scored just one run in this series with the Cubs and have scored just 23 in their past 15 games. It's created an air of defeated expectation in the Mets' clubhouse.

"There's a sense that, boy, we get too far behind and the ballgame's over," Collins said. "That can't happen."

Both manager and players have said the Mets are trying to force their way out of this slump, overloading themselves with thoughts when they step to the plate. In a game centered on quick reactions and muscle memory, that can turn a week-long slide into a month-long struggle.

The only way to fix this, Collins said, is to have some fun. Joe Maddon brought a magician into the Cubs' clubhouse this week, and his team responded by sweeping the Mets.

Collins isn't planning on bringing in any performers, but his players seem to be on the same page -- when the game isn't fun, it gets that much harder.

"This isn't the end of the world," infielder Daniel Murphy said. "Just enjoy our craft again. Just enjoy the game."

The Mets' next week doesn't look any more enjoyable than the past two, with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke awaiting in Los Angeles. After a three-game series with the Dodgers, the Mets will play three in San Francisco. Add in trips to St. Louis and Washington and a second series with the Dodgers before the month ends, and the Mets have even more reason to speed their offensive turnaround.

"That's why you better lighten it up, because it ain't going to get any better tomorrow," Collins said.

Alden Woods is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.