WASHINGTON -- With bursts of lightning flashing outside, the Mets huddled in the visiting clubhouse of Nationals Park just before 5 p.m. ET Wednesday to hash out their problems. Manager Terry Collins called the rare meeting, wanting to discuss his club's five-game losing streak and the issues therein.
The genesis of the meeting formed earlier Wednesday, as Collins went through his daily reading of press clippings about the team. In Wednesday's editions, reliever Pedro Beato delivered a quotation that at least one news outlet interpreted as a disparagement of catcher Josh Thole, calling it unfortunate that his game-ending wild pitch in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Nationals "got away from Thole."
On the team bus to the ballpark the following afternoon, Beato approached Thole to apologize.
"I really had no idea what was even going on, to be honest," Thole said. "He cleared it right up."
Beato's quote seemed innocuous enough that seven of the team's nine traveling beat writers did not even use it in their game recaps. But sensitivities have heightened around the Mets these days, and Collins saw it differently, indicating his disappointment that Beato would call out a teammate by name.
"I didn't finger-point anybody," Beato said. "I never said that it was his fault. All I said was I made a bad pitch. I should have made a better pitch."
The pitch in question was a two-strike, 10th-inning curveball that Beato spiked in the dirt wide of home plate, skipping it past Thole and allowing Ryan Zimmerman to score from third base with the game-winning run. Collins said that it would have been difficult for his catcher to corral the ball, even if Thole insisted that he could have had it.
Regardless, the episode -- manufactured or not -- seemed to crystallize the current state of the Mets, who entered Wednesday's play with five consecutive losses and their confidence perhaps a bit shaken. Several Mets have referred to this current stretch as the most critical point of their season, with eight consecutive games still to come against the Nationals and Dodgers.
Largely for those reasons, Collins called his team meeting roughly two hours prior to Wednesday's first pitch, hoping to reverse course as quickly as possible. Not typically a proponent of such meetings, Collins said he had not called one in about a month.
"We've got to grind this thing out, because that's how we got to this point," he said. "This is an important part of it where this thing could go flat, and we're not going to let it."