- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Terry Collins sat in the Citi Field interview room and answered the first question after the New York Mets’ latest embarrassing defeat, a 9-0 wipeout against Arizona on Thursday that dropped them back to .500 for the first time since April.

The manager spoke for 3 minutes, 27 seconds, his voice rising with emotion, his hands gesturing, tapping his chest and the table in front of him during a brutal assessment of his players’ desire and professionalism.

“Starting tomorrow we’re going to get after it here and those who don’t want to get after it, I will find somebody else who does,” he said, “because in Las Vegas there’s a whole clubhouse filled with guys who want to sit in this room and I’ll find them. That’s all I got to say.”

Following that threat to call up players from the minor leagues, Collins arose, walked back down the corridor to his clubhouse and held a team meeting that lasted about 20 minutes.

The last-place Diamondbacks rolled to a three-game sweep, rattling Noah Syndergaard with four more stolen bases and breaking open the game in a six-run sixth inning against Jon Niese that included Chris Owings’ bases-loaded triple.

Fourteen of New York’s last 15 batters made out, and the Mets - missing injured Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda, David Wright and Jose Reyes - managed five runs and 17 hits in the series. They have the lowest batting average in the major leagues at .236 and were shut out for the ninth time.

“I don’t care who’s not here. There are no excuses here,” Collins said with intensity. “These are major league baseball players. I don’t care where they came from. I don’t care how they got here. The names on their back and on the front of their uniform say they’re a major league baseball player. It starts with them.”

New York dropped to 10-16 since the All-Star break and is three games back for the NL’s second wild card. As 57-57, the Mets are down to .500 for the first time since a 7-7 mark.

“You owe a responsibility to the fans, our fan base, the organization and to yourself to respect for this game to come out and grind it out, whether it’s hot or whether it’s freezing cold, and that’s where it’s got to start,” Collins said.

“Yes, some guys are having a bad time. You cannot say woe is me at this level. You cannot do it. Everybody’s too good here. Nobody feels sorry for you, ‘cause everybody’s been humbled and those who get out of it stay here a long time. Those who don’t you keep looking up and they keep getting a little time here and a little time there but they don’t stay. I want the ones who can stay,” he said.

Players understand the Mets, having raised fan expectations after reaching the World Series last year, expect the team to reach the postseason once again.

“Obviously he feels that pressure on himself from the outside in terms of us going out there to perform and being able to be victorious in any situation possible,” outfielder Curtis Granderson said, “so of course he’s going to have some situations where he’s not going to be as happy as you would expect him to be and after a loss.”

Collins singled out second baseman Neil Walker for his hustle and attitude.

“It’s about keeping positive, keeping the blinders on moving forward on a daily basis with energy and playing hard,” Walker said of Collins’ message.

Syndergaard (9-7) swiped an arm in the air after right fielder Jay Bruce failed to catch Gosewisch’s opposite-field triple down the line, which gave the Diamondbacks a 2—0 lead, then threw up his arms in frustration when Arizona pitcher Braden Shipley (2-1) singled up the middle through a drawn-in infield for his first big league RBI.

Syndergaard allowed three runs and eight hits - including three doubles and a triple - and is 0-4 in his last six starts. He described the mood of the team as “optimistic, kind of down right now, plagued by injury.”

Arizona stole 13 bases in the series, the most in a three-game series against the Mets. Runners have swiped 36 bases in 40 tries against Syndergaard this year and are 51 for 56 against him in his career, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Mets have allowed a big league-high 102 steals, including 20 off rookie Steven Matz, who is second behind Syndergaard.

“It’s real easy for the baserunners to predict when I’m going to home and when I’m going to able to pick off. It’s really mechanical,” Syndergaard said.

Fans booed the sloppy Mets, who allowed Arizona to steal bases without throws and also had an error, wild pitch and run-scoring passed ball.

“There’s got to be a passion to come and play,” Collins said. “There’s got to be a sense of this is what I do for a living, the people who pay me to play are going to see my best effort.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: 3B Jose Reyes (oblique) flied out, walked twice, stole two bases and scored a run, playing five innings at third base as he started a rehab assignment with Class A Brooklyn on Thursday.

UP NEXT

Mets: Logan Verrett (3-7), 0-1 in five starts since the All-Star break, is to start Friday’s series opener against San Diego and Paul Clemens (1-2).

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