Mets unable to capitalize on scoring chances

Mets unable to capitalize on scoring chances

NEW YORK -- Matt Albers didn't nail the slide. In fact, the 225-pound right-hander, who hadn't stepped into the batter's box since 2009, nearly overran second base on his 13th-inning double against the Mets on Wednesday at Citi Field. He chugged into the bag standing upright, leaning on Neil Walker for stability before glaring toward the White Sox dugout and pumping his fist three times. Two batters later, Albers, who earned the victory in the 2-1 Mets loss, came around to score the winning run.

The pitcher's surprising heroics served in stark contrast to the Mets' offensive performance. After catcher Rene Rivera singled in the first run of the game in the second inning, the offense fell flat, continuing a worrying trend: The Mets' .230 team batting average is third lowest in the Majors.

"We had a lot of opportunities to win a number of games on this homestand," manager Terry Collins said after the Mets dropped their fourth of six games at Citi Field. "Couldn't put a big hit on the board."

The Mets, who were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, became the second team in recorded history to earn 13 walks and score one run or fewer, according to Baseball-Reference. The other occurrence was in 1953.

Their offense hasn't been a non-factor this year, though. The team sits at 29-23 in part because of its National League-leading 73 long balls. Twenty-five of those wins, however, have come when they've homered.

Collins has said the Mets are "fun to watch" when they are hitting balls out of the park. But when they aren't?

"We're not a small ball team. We don't steal bases. We're not a big hit-and-run team," Collins said. "We're more of a get-a-good-ball-to hit-and-drive-it-kind-of-team. For us to do other things and to ask guys to do things they aren't very good at, you're asking them to fail."

Collins, of course, was without four of his best hitters: catcher Travis d'Arnaud, first baseman Lucas Duda and third baseman David Wright (all on the disabled list), and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (didn't start).

Cespedes pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth but was called out on strikes.

Left fielder Michael Conforto hardly accepted the absences as an excuse, though, assuming blame after finishing 0-for-6 with four strikeouts.

"I am pressing a bit," Conforto said. "I need to take a deep breath, get back to what was working. That just starts with hard work and feeling confident."

Rivera singled again in the bottom of the 11th, and infielder Wilmer Flores followed with a walk. But Curtis Granderson flied out to center to end the frame.

"It's not easy to hit a homer," shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera said. "If it was so easy, everyone could hit a homer every day. It's not easy."

Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.