NEW YORK -- Ike Davis raised one hand to the sky, slamming his bat to the ground with the other. He took a few steps away from the batter's box, then flung his helmet toward the home dugout at Citi Field.
Davis had just struck out as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded, all but sealing the Mets' 7-2 loss in Game 2 of Monday's doubleheader against the Giants. His team had also lost Game 1, 6-1, in large part because Davis personally stranded eight runners on base. The first baseman finished the day 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, all of them looking, one double play and a bases-loaded groundout.
He was angry.
"It was a culmination of everything," Davis said.
It was out of faith and necessity that manager Terry Collins turned to Davis in one of the most critical spots of Game 2, with the bases loaded, two outs and his team down five. After falling into an 0-2 hole, Davis took three balls and fouled off a strike against Giants reliever Clay Hensley, running the count full.
The next pitch was an 86-mph sinker bisecting the plate, just below the knees. Davis thought it was a ball, too low for strike three. Collins also thought it was a ball. Third baseman David Wright was so convinced it was a ball that he went over to chat with home-plate umpire Dana DeMuth after the inning. But DeMuth called the pitch a strike, Davis slammed his bat and the Mets fell to a .500 record for the first time this season.
"The key is getting them going offensively," Collins said. "I don't know if they're pressing or not, but we've got to certainly start to do a better job."
Even strong offense might not have saved the Mets on Monday, after Dillon Gee followed up one of the best starts of his Major League career with one of the worst, giving up seven runs and 12 hits over 6 2/3 innings. Calling his start "one to forget," Gee bemoaned his inability to keep pitches down in the strike zone. Pablo Sandoval in particular hurt Gee in the first inning, hitting a towering two-run home run halfway up the second deck in right field.
The Mets, meanwhile, were scuffling against lefty Madison Bumgarner, generating little substance with a lineup composed mostly of right-handed hitters. After Justin Turner singled home Wright in the fourth inning, the Mets did not threaten again until after Bumgarner left the game.
That performance came after the Mets mustered just a single run in Game 1, going 10 full innings between scores.
"It's not easy to win a doubleheader, and guys played well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Here, in New York especially, it's good to get a doubleheader."
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of Monday's losses was the struggles of Davis, who less than a week ago was thriving. Davis had just hit his third home run in four games last Wednesday when he descended into his current funk, now at 1-for-17 and counting.
The first baseman struck out looking in his first at-bat of Game 1, then watched strike three whiz by again with two men on base in the third. In the fifth inning, with the bases loaded, Davis hit into an inning-ending double play. Then he grounded out with the bases full and two outs in the seventh.
Between games, Davis walked alone to the batting cage, where he cranked out five or six dozen practice swings. By the time he was finished, the first baseman believed he had found a better point "to launch from," taking two aggressive swings off Hensley in his pinch-hit at-bat.
Though the results did not materialize in Game 2, Davis felt better about his pinch-hit strikeout than anything he did earlier in the day. His anger had diminished by game's end, even if it was not entirely a bad thing in the first place.
"Sometimes you've got to play angry," Collins said. "Here's a guy who's struggling at the plate, in a big situation, he's pinch-hitting to get us back in the game. He's got a count where if he takes a pitch, he's got a chance to keep the inning going, and the next thing you know the inning's over.
So too is the hot streak for the Mets, who have now dropped five of six after winning seven of their first 10 games.
"We haven't pitched like we're capable of pitching this week, that's the biggest thing," Collins said. "And we have a good offensive club that's not hitting, and that's hurt us."