NEW YORK -- Three weeks ago, it seemed like an aberration. Now, it has a bookend. Dillon Gee echoed one of his worst career starts Tuesday night, when he allowed seven earned runs for the second time in five outings and helped sink the Mets to an 8-0 loss against the Brewers.
The Mets were shut out for just the second time all season, and the eight-run margin of defeat was the second biggest for the Mets all year. The club may have found a galvanizing force in the loss, however, when manager Terry Collins opted to protect third baseman David Wright.
Reliever D.J. Carrasco hit Ryan Braun with a pitch in the seventh inning and was immediately ejected, and Collins elected to remove Wright from the game instead of exposing him to retaliation. Wright and Collins argued in the dugout over that decision, but they both seemed calm in the aftermath.
"He's not mad at me. It wasn't about me," said Collins of his No. 3 hitter. "He said, 'Look, if somebody's going to get hit, let it be me.' And I said, 'First of all, that's the thing that's not going to happen.'"
The game had gotten far out of control by that point, which contributed to the decision Collins had to make. Gee (2-3) said that he had decent stuff, but he was victimized by a career night from first baseman Travis Ishikawa, who hit two home runs and set a career high with five RBIs.
And for Gee, it's part of a larger picture that has seen him post a 6.75 ERA in his past five outings. The right-hander gave up a career-high 12 hits and seven earned runs three weeks ago against San Francisco, and he's allowed fewer than three runs in just two starts this season.
"I felt great today, really," said Gee. "I don't know, man. I'm at a loss for words. Like I said, I felt good out there. I felt like I made a lot of good pitches. In my mind, I only made a few mistakes."
That may well be the case, but those mistakes decided the game. The Brewers (16-20) got two runs in the second inning, courtesy of a Cesar Izturis single and an Ishikawa groundout. Ishikawa came back to drill a solo homer in the fifth inning and a three-run shot that chased Gee in the sixth.
"Personally, I thought I made a lot of good pitches tonight," said Gee. "Some things didn't go my way. I don't know what to say. Obviously, his first home run was a mistake. The second one, I just don't know. That was a good pitch, a first pitch, a pretty good curveball. He hit it like I told him it was coming."
"The mistakes that he makes are in the middle of the plate," added Collins. "When I took him out of the game, [catcher Mike Nickeas] said, 'Every mistake he made tonight, they would drill it.'"
The Mets (20-16) have won seven of their past 10 games, but they were never able to get anything going against Milwaukee starter Zack Greinke. They pushed one runner to scoring position in the first five innings, and Greinke (4-1) left after seven innings on the high side of an eight-run cushion.
The game's most dramatic moment came in the top of the seventh, when Carrasco allowed a one-out line-drive homer to second baseman Rickie Weeks. Carrasco's next pitch hit Braun, and home-plate umpire Gary Darling ejected the pitcher immediately without the benefit of a warning.
Collins, for his part, said that he could understand why the umpire reached that decision.
"If I'm the umpire, it sure looked like that," he said. "Nickeas said, 'We didn't intend to hit him.' I said, 'Mike, I believe that. But if that's on the other side of the field -- if Kirk Nieuwenhuis hits a homer and David Wright gets drilled in a game like tonight with the next pitch -- somebody better be ejected.
"If it's David Wright getting hit in that instance, I totally understand what happened. I really and truly do. I don't think we did it on purpose, but I understand the perception of the whole play."
But in this case, understanding the perception wasn't enough. Collins had to sell his star player on why he was removing him from the game, and Wright appeared to take issue with his decision. Collins later removed Daniel Murphy for the same reason, and he said he felt like he didn't have a choice.
"David Wright's a professional who said -- as he always does -- I will take one for the team," said Collins, explaining the nature of the dispute. "But he's not going to do that. We're not in position to have him take one for the club and miss three days or miss a week. I'm not letting that happen."
Wright has hit in nine straight games and will go into Wednesday's series opener against Cincinnati with a .408 batting average, and he said Tuesday night that the game's drama is all behind him.
"Terry's the manager and I have all the respect in the world for Terry. ... He's got to make the move that he thinks is best," he said of the manager's decision. "You get caught up in the moment and things probably looked worse than they really were. We'll go on from there. Terry and I have no issue in this instance, and like I said, in the heat of the moment, it probably looked worse than it was."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.