As the New York Mets stay in their offensive slumber, they've eliminated all the margin of error for their pitchers -- and their fielders.
One bad inning, like Jonathon Niese's error-fueled, 48-pitch first inning that plated three in the Cincinnati Reds' 4-0 win on Tuesday night, becomes too monumental for the Mets to overcome.
"You know the way things are going now you have to play a near-perfect game to get a win, and obviously that's not a good feeling because you have to be able to go out there and be able to make mistakes and still win games, and we're not there right now," Mets captain David Wright said. "We have to go out there and play near-perfect to win, because there's very little room for error with the way we're swinging the bats right now."
One bad inning made the difference in Tuesday's game as the Mets fell behind 3-0 after the first and couldn't rally. The Mets tied their season-low with three hits, failing to put a scare into the Reds after Cincinnati grabbed its early lead. Tuesday marked the 12th time in the past 15 games the Mets have scored three runs or less.
"It's obviously no fun to come to the ballpark and need your starter and bullpen to be perfect to win games. That's not very fun, offensively," Wright said. "We have to keep doing our work and preparing, hopefully get a couple cheap ones to fall and get some guys' confidence up and start rolling from there."
Just six batters into Tuesday's game, the Mets once again were looking at a deficit and needing a lifeless offense to wake up.
After Niese needed just seven pitches to record the first two outs, he lost the strike zone. Two walks and a single loaded the bases before a grounder went through Wright's legs for an error, scoring two runs. Cincinnati later added a run on a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-0. None of the runs against Niese were earned.
"I don't think I've ever seen a ball go between his legs," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Wright.
Niese found his groove after the first inning and pitched well, lasting six innings and giving up just those three runs, but the damage had been done. As inning after inning passed, and the Mets' batters couldn't get anything going, a Mets pitcher once again learned the hard way he needs to be almost flawless to win games.
"Fortunately, I thought I did keep the team in the game," Niese said. "Unfortunately, it was not enough."
Boos for Ike: The fans loudly booed Ike Davis on Tuesday as he went 0-for-3 to drop to 1-for-his-past-36. He is also 0-for-24 with runners in scoring position in his past 18 games after grounding out with the Mets down 3-0 with two men on and two outs in the fourth.
Davis acknowledged he has heard the boos.
"What are you going to do?" Davis said.
Collins praised Davis for how he has handled the crowd's reaction.
"You hear the people yelling from the stands, the boos, but it's all part of playing here," Collins said. "When you're scuffling, you got to be a big boy and face it, and I thought Ike has handled it very well so far."