"I should have done a better job."
The Mets could have done a better job adding onto a four-run lead too. Kyle Farnsworth could have had better location on the fastball that Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit out to start the 10th and give the Marlins a 7-6 victory at Citi Field.
On the list of reasons why the Mets, in total control going into the sixth inning, lost for the first time in four games -- and only the second in time in six contests -- their well-meaning and self-sacrificing young catcher was down the list that Terry Collins started simply with: The Marlins can hit.
"Make no mistake, these guys are second in the league in hitting," said the manager. "So you got to make pitches on them. If you get a lot of the plate, they are going to swing."
Mejia, cruising, was backed by Bobby Abreu's first Major League home run since 2012, a two-run blast in the first, then Lucas Duda's two-out, two-run single in the third. The pitcher didn't figure out that the Marlins were taking nothing, and he continued to challenge them with poorly located first-pitch fastballs as the Marlins batted around in the sixth.
Marcell Ozuna led off with a double and Giancarlo Stanton homered to right-center to cut the lead to 5-3. Garrett Jones smoked a line drive that landed, fortuitously for the Mets, in first baseman Lucas Duda's glove, and as the skies opened up, Mejia got Derek Dietrich to ground softly into a force play. But Adeiny Hechavarria followed by lining a single to center to score Casey McGehee.
Collins went to his workhorse Carlos Torres to face pinch-hitter Reed Johnson, whose fly ball to the right-field corner landed a foot fair, scoring Dietrich and Hechavarria and putting the Marlins ahead, 6-5.
That lead lasted two outs into the bottom of the inning, when d'Arnaud coaxed a two-out walk, went to second on a passed ball by Saltalamacchia, and scored when Hechavarria, who sharply backhanded Omar Quintanilla's smash into the hole, threw it over Jones' head against the dugout screen.
But the game that the Mets had well in hand had drastically changed, becoming one that could doom the Mets with one more badly located pitch, this one by Farnsworth.
"Supposed to be a fastball away that came over middle-middle," said Farnsworth. "If I am going to get beat, I am going to get beat with my best pitch. He put a good swing on it, hit it to the opposite field."
The ball barely cleared the orange line at the top of the left-field fence before hitting the metal fence behind it. And when Marlins reliever Steve Cishek got Daniel Murphy looking (Murphy was ejected for arguing the call) and Abreu lined out, the Marlins had the kind of win that makes the losing team feel sick.
It had started off so well, David Wright scoring Eric Young with a sacrifice fly before Abreu, getting his second start since joining the Mets six days ago because Chris Young was ill, unloaded with Murphy aboard.
"That's why he is there," Collins of Abreu. "He gives you a quality at-bat.
"You know he is going to put the bat on the ball. That's why you would like to get him some playing time. When big situations come up pinch-hitting, he is going to produce for us."
Mets pitchers had produced quality starts in 10 of the last 11 games, Mejia providing two of them. Until the Marlins scored their first run in the second on Dietrich's RBI single, their young pitcher had gone 14 2/3 innings without allowing a run, and he sailed through five innings until the rains came down and his pitches came up.
"They got me," Mejia said repeatedly, denying he was surprised by the Marlins' sudden aggressive approach or affected by the rain.
"The mound was still in great shape," said Collins. "It wasn't like he was slipping.
"You can get a nice clean dry baseball on every other pitch if you need to. I don't think that was it. I just think he threw balls on the plate. They had three or four hits in a row on the first pitch. He was throwing strikes, just throwing them in the middle of the plate."