"I didn't have that much command today, really," Gee said. "I knew it was going to be a battle early on."
The command issues were evident in the first inning. With Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson on first after hitting a leadoff single, Gee made a mistake on a down-and-in fastball to third baseman Miguel Cabrera, giving up a monstrous two-run home run to the second deck in left field and putting the Mets in an early 2-0 hole.
Cabrera has played six games in New York this season -- three against the Yankees and three against the Mets -- and has hit a home run in five of them.
"He's the best hitter in baseball. There's no question," manager Terry Collins said. "Nobody does what he does."
The Mets battled back to take the lead in the fourth inning, though. Second baseman Daniel Murphy hit an RBI single to cut the Mets' deficit to one run in the third inning, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud hit his first Major League home run in the fourth inning off Detroit starter Rick Porcello to give New York a 3-2 lead.
"I just put my head down and started running," d'Arnaud said. "The fans let me know it was gone."
The 32,084 fans in Citi Field coaxed d'Arnaud out of the dugout for a curtain call, something the rookie called an "unbelievable experience." He'll get to keep the ball, too, as he was able to trade a bat and a ball to the fan who caught his long drive to left center.
"Speechless. It was an unbelievable feeling," d'Arnaud said. "We got the loss, so it was bittersweet."
Dirks' go-ahead blast came in the sixth inning after catcher Victor Martinez got on base with a leadoff single. Gee said he threw the same pitch he did when he struck out Dirks in the fourth inning, and Collins said the pitch looked pretty good from his angle in the dugout.
"You can't get them out the same way twice. You have to keep trying to mix and match, and keep them guessing," Gee said. "It helps when you can command, too, and you're not behind a lot. I feel like I was behind a lot of guys, wasn't throwing any of the off-speed stuff for strikes and it makes it tough facing a team like that."
The sixth inning was Gee's last on Sunday. He gave up four runs on 10 hits over those six frames, walking two and striking out two while giving up multiple home runs for just the fifth time in 26 starts this season.
"I thought Gee was really good. He really knows how to pitch," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's not overpowering but he has a great feel for pitching. I was very impressed with him."
Porcello earned his 10th win of the season for the Tigers, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out four.
"We didn't capitalize in any situation we had a chance in, we didn't get a lot of guys on," Collins said." They pitched us tough, and we didn't swing the bats the way we certainly had been or were capable of."
Detroit broke the game open in the ninth inning, tagging Mets relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison for seven runs. The Tigers hit seven singles in the inning, scoring four runs on RBI hits, one run on a bases-loaded walk, another run on a wild pitch and a final run on a sac fly to push their lead to eight.
"Everything was going through," d'Arnaud said. "You just got to tip the cap. They just kept getting hits over and over."
Overall, the Tigers outhit the New York, 41-17, in the series, marking the most hits the Mets have allowed in a three-game set that did not feature any extra-inning contests. Overall, Detroit outscored New York, 20-4, over the three games.
Things won't get any easier this week, either. The Mets will host a Phillies team that has scored four or more runs in six of its last seven games, and they'll have to face both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the four-game series.
Not that Collins is worried, though.
"This is a resilient team," Collins said. "We're asking a lot of guys to step up who are fairly new at this level, and we're asking them to step up and help us produce runs at the Major League level for the first time. It's a lot to ask of these young guys, but so far, they've risen to the occasion. We'll bounce back tomorrow."