DENVER -- The Mets set franchise records Friday by allowing 11 runs and committing four errors in one inning. They committed six errors in all. One of their bench players hit for the cycle, after entering the game with five hits all season. Then again, that was not so outlandish considering both sides combined for 36 hits in one of the wackiest, ugliest games the Mets have played in recent memory.
The end result was an 18-9 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field, a loss so implausible that all the Mets could do afterward was shrug. If Scott Hairston's cycle was not enough to save them, what could? If nine runs and 17 hits of their own could not lift them, what could?
"That was probably one of the most craziest games I've ever been a part of," Hairston said. "But that's just one day. That's just one day in the season, and we've got to put it behind us."
This one followed all the conventions of a typical game until the fifth inning, when starting pitcher Chris Schwinden took the four-run lead the Mets had given him and set it afire. Pinch-hitter Eric Young led off the inning by reaching on Schwinden's own throwing error. Marco Scutaro walked. Jonathan Herrera singled, plating a run. And Carlos Gonzalez chased Schwinden with a booming three-run home run that reached the pine forest beyond Coors Field's center-field wall, tying the game.
In came Manny Acosta, who retired only one of the nine batters he faced. Included therein was a three-run homer for Dexter Fowler and a two-run single for Gonzalez, giving him five RBIs for the inning and a career-high six for the game.
And still, somehow, some way, the game was not out of reach.
In large part because of Hairston's cycle, the 10th in team history, the Mets stayed close until Ramon Hernandez's grand slam in the seventh. It was Hairston who gave the Mets their second run in the fourth inning, Hairston who drew them within one in the fifth inning, Hairston who propelled them back within five with his cycle-completing double in the sixth.
But it was the Mets who could not take advantage of that, giving up a combined 16 runs in the fifth and seventh innings.
"You play enough games here, you know innings like that are going to possibly take place," manager Terry Collins said. "It happened pretty fast."
Just that quickly, the Mets undid most of the good vibes they had carried with them to Colorado after sweeping the Marlins in New York this week. Mets pitchers had given up four runs total in three games against the Marlins, and 17 over their last five games. Then they went out and allowed 18 to the Rockies in just over three hours.
In a sullen clubhouse afterward, there were no easy answers. Hairston called his cycle "bittersweet," saying he will enjoy it only after Friday's outcome is forgotten. Collins bemoaned a bullpen that had pitched so well recently, citing Acosta in particular. Schwinden lamented a personal opportunity lost, given how important a strong outing would have been for him to solidify his spot as Mike Pelfrey's rotation replacement.
"This wasn't a good way to go about it," Schwinden said. "But hopefully I get another opportunity to do that."
With 35,103 mostly gleeful fans surrounding them at Coors Field, the Mets had reason to feel downtrodden after one of their worst pitching and defensive performances in years. But in the context of the season, it was just one loss on the heels of three victories.
The Mets did their best to look at it that way.
"Anything can happen in this ballpark," Hairston said. "I've played here a lot of times and I've seen a lot. It's just one of those nights where you come up short, and you just have to forget about it."
As if to sum up the day, Ruben Tejada came to the plate with two outs in the ninth, took three balls from Rockies pitcher Rex Brothers, then dropped his bat and began to jog to first base. Two pitches later, after realizing his mistake, Tejada struck out looking to end the game.
"It's one of those nights," Collins said. "It's hopefully the last time we'll see it this summer. But we'll have another bad day."