- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- New York Mets left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak apologized to catcher Josh Thole after the two got into an argument in the dugout following Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche's two-out, two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning on Wednesday afternoon.
Prior to allowing the homer, Byrdak wanted to throw a 2-2 curveball, but Thole was told to call for a fastball from the bench. Byrdak shook Thole off twice, but the catcher continued to put down the sign for a fastball.
Byrdak threw the fastball. Unfortunately, it was right down the heart of the plate -- instead of outside where Thole was set up -- and LaRoche drilled it deep into the right-field seats for his 18th homer of the season to give the Nationals a 5-1 lead.
Byrdak appeared to gesture toward Thole and say something after the ball was hit. He was pulled from the game after the homer, and the two proceeded to have a conversation in the dugout. Byrdak thought it was Thole's call, but once he learned it came from the bench, he turned his ire toward pitching coach Dan Warthen and the two proceeded to having a jawing match of their own. At one point, third baseman David Wright came over to see what was going on.
Eventually, everything subsided. The Mets lost to the Nationals, 5-2, and have now dropped six in a row, 12 of their last 13 and are 1-11 since the All-Star break. After the game, manager Terry Collins ripped into his team, demanding accountability.
"We need to go out there and win ballgames," Byrdak said after the Mets fell to a season-worst four games under .500 (47-51). "We can't let our emotions get the best of us. There's frustration all around this clubhouse ... from what we did in the first half to come out in the second half and have this happen ... there's a lot of guys that are pissed off. Everybody is pissed off. I made a mistake on the mound and I apologized to Josh about it. It never should've happened.
"I didn't execute the pitch. Again, as a bullpen, we need to keep it close there."
Said Wright: "It's what happens when two competitors disagree with something. That happens fairly regularly, but when it happens, you don't want it to be in front of everybody like that. I'd be more upset if they weren't upset about it, because obviously Thole wanted one pitch and Byrdak wanted a different one. The result wasn't good. They were both upset about it. It's just being a competitor."
Wright doesn't expect tensions to escalate any further.
"No. Not at all. I think it's done," Wright said.
Thole, who said "everything is good" with his teammate, didn't expect Byrdak to get so heated.
"It's one of those things when you're not winning ballgames," Thole said. "Emotions get the best of you sometimes. That's what happens when you give up runs and lose games. Stuff like that happens. It caught me off guard a little bit, but that's how it goes."
Thole, however, wasn't surprised that Collins ripped into the team.
"I mean, at some point we feel like it had to come," Thole said.
Warthen was unavailable for comment.
The Mets wrapped up their current homestand with an 0-6 record. It was the eighth time in franchise history the team had a winless homestand of six or more games. The last time it happened was Aug. 13-18, 2002.
The Mets now face a daunting 11-game West Coast road trip, but Thole is glad to be getting away from the team's home confines.
"I don't think anything can get any worse than it is right now," Thole said. "We can't wait to get out of here."
The Mets now find themselves 11½ games behind the Nationals in the National League East and seven back in the wild card standings.
"We're gonna get through it and you're gonna see a different team in the next two weeks," Collins said. "I don't deal with excuses. I deal with accountability, standing up and being a man and playing the game right. We're gonna get back on track.
"I'm not gonna mention names, but I just know that when times get tough, it's human nature to forget to look in the mirror once in a while."
The Mets were once 46-39 on July 7, but ever since, their season has spiraled downhill.
"We're gonna play the game the way we did a month ago. Get big hits, grind out at-bats, pitch and make pitches," Collins said. "We're better than the way we're playing, and we're gonna prove it."
Just a week ago, the Mets had to have a team meeting after right-handed reliever Pedro Beato took an apparent shot at Thole postgame following a game-ending wild pitch in Washington.
"I didn't finger-point anybody," Beato said afterward. "I never said that it was his fault. All I said was I made a bad pitch. I should have made a better pitch."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.