PHILADELPHIA — The scary part for the Mets is they might not even be close to rock bottom.
An abysmal road trip ended Sunday with this beleaguered bunch managing all of two hits against Zack Wheeler, who sent the Mets home battered and bruised with a 3-0 loss to the Phillies for a seventh defeat in eight games.
Wheeler, who fired a shutout, retired 22 straight batters after surrendering a double to Brandon Nimmo leading off the first, helping the Phillies win their eighth straight game. Nimmo also delivered the Mets’ only other hit, a single in the ninth. The Mets fell 2 ½ games behind in the NL East, after going 1-6 against the Marlins and Phillies over the past week.
“I visited the players in the clubhouse,” owner Steve Cohen tweeted before the game. “They are ready and in a good frame of mind for this game.”
That may have been true, but it didn’t lead to execution against a pitcher who might have become the front runner for the National League Cy Young award with Sunday’s outing. The Mets (56-55) are headed home to face a Nationals team that was dismantled at the trade deadline, but then begin a stretch in which they will play the Dodgers and Giants, powerhouses from the NL West, for 13 straight games.
Only adding to the Mets’ misery, Javier Baez departed the game in the fifth inning with left hip tightness, a potential crusher to an already underwhelming lineup.
Michael Conforto walked in the eighth inning to snap Wheeler’s streak of 22 straight batters retired, but the right-hander didn’t relent in getting the final five outs. He muzzled a lineup that had only two hits through the first eight innings on Saturday before breaking out in the ninth with three homers.
Taijuan Walker allowed solo homers to Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto in the first inning and then settled into a groove until the sixth, when Bryce Harper cleared the left-field fence to extend the Phillies’ lead to 3-0.
Walker, in his best start of the second half, allowed three runs on four hits and one walk over six innings in which he threw 89 pitches. The right-hander had allowed at least four earned runs in each of his previous four starts. His biggest problem has been the long ball, with 10 homers allowed in 21 innings since the All-Star break.