HOUSTON -- Call it the "Colorado Cough," the "Rocky Mountain High Fever," whatever, the New York Mets left "Mile High Country" feeling pretty low and the Astros took advantage.
Houston completed a three-game sweep of the depleted Mets, winning, 8-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. Barring a playoff matchup it was the final meeting between the two teams as National League opponents. Houston moves to the American League West Division beginning in 2013.
Wednesday's starter Chris Schwinden was one of a couple of Mets battling flu-like symptoms since heading south from Colorado, as if recent injuries weren't enough to thin the ranks. Lucas Duda, who was scratched for the second time in three games from the starting lineup, and catcher Mike Nickeas are among the others feeling under the weather.
Is the team feeling any better heading back home for a three-game series with Arizona, starting on Friday?
"Not by the looks of the way this series went," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Schwinden lasted just four innings, equaling his only other start this season. He gave up two homers, both to Houston third baseman Chris Johnson, also equaling that outing. He gave up six hits, walked two, struck out one and was tagged with the loss in his first decision of the season.
"I thought today was going to be different," Schwinden said. "I left a couple of balls up in the zone and it changed the whole game. Pitching-wise, I felt OK. A couple bad pitches up in the zone and they got hammered. Those were the only key two pitches that really hurt me."
A new pitch, still in the experimental stage, is one Johnson hit out of the park.
"I threw my new slider that I just acquired in the last couple of days," Schwinden said. "And then, one was a curveball trying to get ahead in the count. Looks like he was sitting on it and he got it."
Johnson had a career day for Houston, with four hits and six RBIs
"It was a special day," Johnson said. "My best day in the big leagues. I've been working on having a better approach. I looked at my stat sheet and saw zero home runs. I'm supposed to drive in runs."
The outcome didn't speak well of Schwinden's chances for a third start this season.
"I know this didn't help," Schwinden said. "I think their patience is wearing a little bit with my performance. I've just got to keep my head on straight and try to go for it if I get another opportunity."
Collins said he would not commit to another start for Schwinden.
"I'm not committing to anything," Collins said. "Things change in this game. So we'll see what happens."
Third baseman David Wright, one of the few veterans on the Mets' roster, had words of encouragement for the young pitcher.
"Schwin is going to be fine," Wright said. "He's had a couple of rough starts. Obviously, in Colorado, they were swinging the bats extremely well. Here, he's a little under the weather, kind of got that thing that's going around here. He went out there and left a couple of breaking balls up to Johnson. But he's going to be fine."
The home-run ball continues to be a nagging reoccurrence for New York's pitching staff. Two homers allowed in each of the last two games gave Mets pitchers a tally of 27 homers in 25 games this season.
The lone bright spot in Wednesday's performance was shortstop Ruben Tejada, who collected three hits from the leadoff spot. He was thrown out at third base in the first inning attempting to stretch a double and was left stranded following the two other hits.
Outside of that, it was a lopsided loss that punctuated a tough series on the visitor's side and a disappointing end to a six-game road trip that began with the Mets taking two of three from Colorado.
"You can have ups and downs," Collins said. "They played great. They pitched great. We looked up and we were 0-and-2 for a lot of at-bats. It's tough. It's a credit to them. They got ahead in the count and made good pitches. They outpitched us and they outhit us."
Wright agreed that the Astros outplayed the Mets in every aspect.
"It just goes to show you the difference a few days can make," Wright said. "In Colorado, for the most part, we were getting good pitching, some timely hits, running the bases well. It seemed like we brought a lot of energy. Maybe that took some of that out of us coming here. But they gave it to us pretty good and we didn't have much to come back with.
"I think that [Colorado] series took a lot out of us. Coming here, we just didn't match the energy and the execution that we had in Colorado. We knew we were going to have some ups and downs, especially with a lot of the young guys that we have on this roster. But this is what we need to fix if we want to become the team that we think we are capable of becoming.
"[We have] way too many inconsistencies right now. It seems like we play great for a series and then poorly for a series. And we're going to have to straighten that out."
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.