Bullpen called on for heavy lifting in Mets' loss

Bullpen called on for heavy lifting in Mets' loss

Bullpen called on for heavy lifting in Mets' loss
NEW YORK -- The Mets must not believe in rock bottom, because the blue, white and orange are certainly still digging.

With a 16-1 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, the Mets fell to 4-24 at Citi Field since the All-Star break. They've lost 11 of their last 12, have not scored more than three runs at home since Aug. 12 and were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention to the tune of 21 hits, including a ninth-inning grand slam.

"People paid money to see us tonight," manager Terry Collins said. "Not that we're going to win or not that we're going to lose, 16-1, but not the way we lost it. This is the big leagues."

When asked if he was embarrassed by his team's performance, Collins' answer was short and to the point: "I am."

The Mets' struggles at home have led to dwindling crowds -- Thursday's announced attendance of 20,010 was the smallest in Citi Field history -- and a thick cloud of frustration at the ballpark that feels like it may seemingly never dissipate.

"You've still got to play and play the game right," Collins said, adding that what he saw on Thursday night was "unacceptable."

Mets starter Hefner surrendered six consecutive singles to open the game, then walked Kevin Fransden with the bases loaded to plate the fourth run of the inning. He left without recording an out -- the first Mets pitcher to do so since John Maine threw just five pitches on May 20, 2010 -- and by the time the inning came to a close was charged with seven of the eight runs the Phillies put up in the frame.

"I don't want to sit through a whole nine-inning game that I started, that's very disappointing," Hefner said. "Words can't even describe how embarrassing that is."

So entered a parade of nine different relievers -- an all-time franchise record.

The Phillies, meanwhile, needed just one. Starter Tyler Cloyd delivered eight innings of one-run ball, striking out six and allowing just three hits before B.J. Rosenberg came in finish the game in the ninth.

"He's very poised," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said of Cloyd. "He shows such great poise on the mound. He knows he's not going to overpower guys. He's just going to go out and execute his plan and just make pitches, try to hit his spots."

Cloyd was able to cruise after entering the game with an eight-run lead, but the Mets' bullpen held Philadelphia's offense at bay for six innings, and allowed just one run in the eighth.

But the seven-run eruption in the ninth inning only bookended what was already a tough night.

"The record speaks for itself," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "Obviously we're not playing good baseball, and for some reason at home it's been really difficult in the second half. I think you try and put your finger on it and try to figure out reasons, and we've just not been able to find any answers."

The issue is identified -- the offensive struggles at Citi Field have counteracted more than a handful of solid starts from the Mets' rotation. New York was 46-40 heading into the Midsummer Classic, but is just 20-43 since.

"To have the bright spot that was the first half and have a ton of momentum going into the All-Star break, and then kind of the complete opposite and play as poorly as we have in the second half, it's a punch to the gut," Wright said. "Guys put a lot of time, a lot of effort and take a lot of pride in going out there and seeing results in this game, and we're not seeing them.

"Guys are really upset, guys are embarrassed. And we should be because we have been very, very, bad in the second half."

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