After a wild Colorado weekend in which anybody holding a bat was a threat, the Mets last night never got it completely figured out against Bud Norris or the Astros’ bullpen in a 4-3 loss at Minute Maid Park.
Just to make the Mets feel at home, the Astros attracted only 17,536 paying customers.
Manny Acosta surrendered the go-ahead run in the eighth on Jed Lowrie’s RBI single, after Jordan Schafer’s steal of second.
The Mets finished April with a 13-10 record, but missed an opportunity to move five games above .500 for the first time since July 19, 2010.
“I’m very pleased with the first month of the season,” manager Terry Collins said. “With what we’ve gone through so far, we’ve had some of our key guys banged up, we’ve had a couple of guys we expected to swing the bat for us haven’t. [But] we’re sitting here right now going into the month of May in pretty good shape.”
The Mets averaged 7.3 runs over three games in Colorado, but maybe the altitude helped. In their previous six games before arriving at Coors Field they had averaged 3.1 runs.
R.A. Dickey took a no-decision after bringing a no-hitter into the sixth. He gave up three runs in the inning — two of them coming on a blast into the left-field seats by Matt Downs.
The Astros’ first run came on a Travis Buck fielder’s choice, after Lowrie hit a bloop single that landed between Ruben Tejada and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who was playing his first game in left field for the Mets.
“It was a tweener ball that I should have caught,” Nieuwenhuis said. “It dropped and that’s unfortunate. [Dickey] sure was pitching a great game and I just made a mistake. I should have charged in a little bit harder.”
Norris sailed through six shutout innings, but stumbled in the seventh. Nieuwenhuis delivered the big hit for the Mets, a two-run single with two outs, making it 3-3.
In his return to the lineup, after missing the last 3 1/2 weeks with a strained left calf, Andres Torres batted seventh and played center field, finishing 1-for-4 with an RBI single in the seventh.
Dickey lasted six innings and allowed three earned runs on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts for his first no-decision of the season.
“I literally threw one pitch that I regretted, and it got hit out of the park,” Dickey said. “One more little wiggle to the knuckleball there, he pops that up or hits it off the end.”
Torres reclaimed his job as the Mets’ starting center fielder, but in something of a surprise decision the leadoff job still belongs to Nieuwenhuis.
Collins indicated the combination of Nieuwenhuis’ recent success batting leadoff and Torres perhaps still needing at-bats in his return from the disabled list were the basis for his lineup decision.
When it came to making the defensive assignments, Collins wanted Torres’ experience over youth in center. Nieuwenhuis will play left field, most of the time.
“We looked up a lot of numbers: Andres Torres is a pretty good center fielder,” Collins said.
Torres was clearly happy to regain his old position, but also said he won’t resist if the Mets want Nieuwenhuis in center.
“I’m a team player,” Torres said. “Wherever they put me, it’s their decision. When I was with the Giants I played everywhere. I want to be a good teammate.”
the Mets, the Mets, Andres Torres, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Nieuwenhuis, Mets, Astros, manager Terry Collins, Jed Lowrie