NEW YORK -- A flagging offense had one of baseball's best pitchers on the ropes. This was the dream scenario for the Mets: Jose Fernandez, two innings into Tuesday's marquee matchup with Noah Syndergaard, and already 51 pitches to his name.
But with the bases loaded in the second inning, David Wright worked the count full before lifting a routine fly to right field. The Mets never threatened against Fernandez again in a 2-1 loss to the Marlins that underscored once again how much their lineup is sagging.
"Jose Fernandez is never the remedy for a struggling offense," Wright said. "That's for sure."
For this offense, however, Fernandez almost was -- and everyone knew it. A different vibe affected the hoodie-wearing 28,923 fans at Citi Field when Curtis Granderson snapped his 0-for-20 skid with a leadoff double against Fernandez. Three batters later, Lucas Duda lashed a single to center, and the Mets were on their way.
But the big hit that would send Fernandez to the clubhouse never came. After his single, Duda was thrown out attempting to take second base. An inning later, the Mets loaded the bases only to come up empty after Wright's flyout. Yoenis Cespedes led off the third with a deep fly that may have landed several rows back in July. In April, with double-digit wind gusts flapping in the opposite direction, it died on the warning track.
"I don't think we were ever putting good swings on him," Wright said of Fernandez. "I think we were able to draw some walks, find some holes. We had a couple chances early to get to him. He made some good pitches to get out of it."
Only once more did the Mets truly threaten, placing runners on the corners with one out in the sixth. But against left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, Michael Conforto bounced into an inning-ending double play.
On an island, that would have made for a frustrating night that the Mets could easily shrug away. But in the middle of a maddening homestand -- the Mets have scored six runs over four consecutive losses -- it lingered over their heads more than usual.
"I'm concerned about them," manager Terry Collins said. "The one thing we'd like to try to do is start to get into some type of rhythm."
Playing every day, as the Mets finally are after a disjointed first week of the season, should help. Facing lesser pitchers than Fernandez will, too. For now, the Mets are trying not to expend their patience with a season that has not begun the way they would like.
"I'm not sitting here today down in the dumps thinking, 'OK, the season's a waste,' when we've got a stinking marathon yet," Collins said. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow."