They have this funny little rule in baseball. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. You have to score runs in order to win the game.

Apparently, the Mets need a refresher course in this aspect of the game, as they’ve just been shutout twice in back-to-back games against the Washington Nationals in their home ballpark, the place where just two weeks ago they were winning ten games in a row.

California may be having a water drought, but it’s runs on the board that are creating a desert at Citi Field for the home team.

They’re far from the first team to lose 1-0 in consecutive games. In their history, they’ve even inflicted similar damage. In a doubleheader against the Pirates on Sept. 12, 1969, the Mets shutout the Buccos by the same score in both games, 1-0.

But in the present, it’s not as much fun to be on the losing side.

Mets skipper Terry Collins summed up the obvious after the weekend where the Nats took three of four from the Metsies and left them 16-10 on the season, still with a 3 ½ game lead against the rest of the NL East.

“We’re not getting the big hits,” said Collins. “We got neutralized pretty much. We’re getting the opportunities but not coming through. You’ve got to score when you get the chances.”

On this sunny Sunday afternoon in Flushing, the team did have their chances. They had Curtis Granderson on second base with one out in the first and couldn’t get him to the plate. Kevin Plawecki doubled with one out in the seventh, but that’s where he stayed.

Their best opportunity came in the eighth. With another healthy showing of 41,048 fans in the stands, John Mayberry, Jr. – pinch-hitting for Sean Gilmartin, walked to lead off the frame. Granderson moved him to second with a groundout to the four hole. Juan Lagares also walked, and a wild pitch moved both runners up, cutting down on the possibility of an inning-ending double-play and the 3-4 hitters approaching. But Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer both struck out swinging to end the threat.

“I don’t think we’re swinging the bats like we can,” Collins admitted after the game. “But I’m not taking anything away from the Washington pitching staff. They pitched (well). We gotta put some good swings on the ball all through the lineup.”

The back-to-back shutouts marked the only time the Mets had been shutout this season thus far, and the Nationals were delighted it was the first time in their franchise history they had won consecutive games, 1-0.

It was the fourth time in Mets team history they had lost consecutive games by the same 1-0 score, the last coming back on Sept. 4-5, 1990, against St. Louis first, and then Pittsburgh. The last time the Mets lost consecutive games against the same team was in the memorable year of 1973 against the Cubbies at Shea, April 17-18. And for those keeping score at home regarding all Mets games that ended up being 1-0, they are 128-113. Well, in case you were wondering…

The last time the Mets were shutout in consecutive games by any score was against the Yankees last year at Citi Field, May 14-15.

More importantly to present reality, the scoring drought means the team has not touched home now in 18 consecutive innings, with their last run scored in the eighth against the Nationals on Friday night when Daniel Murphy hit a bases-clearing double to preserve Matt Harvey’s victory. But even in that game, runs were held to premium status. The team had scored just one run prior to that, and lost to the same Nats on Thursday night, 8-2.

So in their last 36 innings, they’ve scored just six runs.

They were 0-7 with runners in scoring position in their latest loss, and were just 4-23 (.174) in the four-game series with Washington.

Nonetheless, Collins remains delighted with the team’s early performances. “We’re fine. If you were to tell me at the beginning of the season that we’d be 16-10, with a three and half game lead on May 3rd, we’d take it.”

Collins properly put the losses in perspective. “I said when we were winning 11 in a row we’re going to have down time. Gotta play through it.”

Next up, the Baltimore Orioles for a two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Set the Mets GPS for home plate. That’s where they’d like to go.

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