CINCINNATI (AP) — The New York Mets committed to paying nearly half a billion dollars in player contracts this offseason in their pursuit of a World Series title.
The problem is it’s not paying off.
For the first time since 2012, the Mets have dropped five series in a row.
The Cincinnati Reds erupted on Thursday for four first-inning runs against Kodai Senga and beat New York 5-0, taking two of three in the series.
Spencer Steer added an insurance solo shot in the fifth inning.
Jonathan India, Jake Fraley and Tyler Stephenson each had two hits for the Reds (16-21), which sent the Mets (18-20) to their fourth loss in five games and 13th in 17.
New York has been shut out seven times, one fewer than all of last season.
Cincinnati pitchers had just one previous shutout this year, on April 15 against Philadelphia.
“Hats off to all the teams that shut us out,” Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “I wish I had the answer for that one.”
New York has scored two runs in its last 19 innings.
“When you don’t score runs, it’s impossible to win a game,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.
New York’s previous series losses during the skid were to Washington, Atlanta, Detroit and Colorado.
On a Cincinnati bullpen day, Derek Law pitched into the second inning, followed by Ben Lively, Lucas Sims and Kevin Herget, who logged his first career save.
Lively (1-0), promoted from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday, allowed four hits with a strikeout over three innings to earn his first win since his rookie season in 2017.
“I’m so fired up,” Lively said. “My mom and my sister were here. I was so jacked up. I’m pretty riled up right now. It is surreal. I feel the circle is complete now.
“They told me to be ready for the second inning. I had no idea how long I’d go. I could have gone longer. Hell, yeah, I was fired up. I felt good. That’s just me. That’s how I am. It was an awesome win today.”
The group didn’t allow an extra-base hit until Francisco Álvarez’s one-out double off Herget in the seventh.
Right fielder Henry Ramos threw Álvarez out at the plate trying to score on Lindor’s single to preserve the shutout.
After giving up two hits over six scoreless innings in his previous start against Colorado on May 5, Senga (4-2) threw 37 pitches while allowing five hits in Cincinnati’s four-run first inning, including four hits and a walk with two outs that produced all four runs.
Kevin Newman capped the rally with a bases-loaded, two-run single.
The Reds sent nine batters to the plate in the inning.
“It has been our identity, the next man up mentality,” Newman said. “The overall big team contributions. A pressure that we bring is taking the extra bag when we can. That’s big for us. Getting in scoring position when normally you wouldn’t puts us in a good position. The home runs are going to come.”
Showalter admitted he was one more batter away from bringing in Tommy Hunter.
“We had Tommy up early,” Showalter said. “I hated to do that. There were only two balls that were hit hard. That’s the way it goes when you’re going through a tough stretch like this.”
Senga regrouped to face the minimum nine batters over the next three innings before Steer’s two-out drive in the fifth.
The Reds reached Senga for eight hits and five runs with one walk and seven strikeouts.
“I think I was able to control myself pretty well today,” Senga said through an interpreter. “One thing I had in mind coming into this outing was pounding the strike zone, and I thought I did that pretty well. I threw it where they could hit it.”
India’s leadoff double extended his hitting streak to eight games (11-for-26, .423), his second streak of eight games this season and the third by a Reds player.
T.J. Friedl also had an eight-game streak in April.
Herget’s three-inning save was Cincinnati’s first since Sal Romano against the Cubs on Aug. 10, 2019.
Mets: Friday’s starting pitcher at Washington remained to be determined, but manager Buck Showalter confirmed before Thursday’s game that it wouldn’t be RHP Max Scherzer, who was scratched from Tuesday’s start with neck spasms. “He threw from 90 feet today,” Showalter said. “He’s improving each day.”
Reds: 1B Joey Votto (left shoulder and bicep surgery) is scheduled to go to Louisville to continue taking live batting practice … RHP Fernando Cruz (right shoulder strain) is long tossing from 150 feet and will be with the team in Miami and Denver and is expected to make at least one rehab start before being activated, but no date has been determined.
Reds: RHP Graham Ashcraft (2-1) was scheduled to face in Miami on Friday night RHP Euly Pérez, who will be making his major league debut.