…and it isn’t the swine flu. Somewhere in between losing their 3rd consecutive game in Pittsburgh and learning Jose Reyes might be out until after the All-Star Break, Mets CF Carlos Beltran (2-4, HR, double in Thursday’s 11-6 defeat) used an audience with the New York Post’s Bart Hubbach to unload on his teammates.  Might this be clubhouse leadership a certain Diet Coke-swilling radio host has long cried out for?

Asked if the sweep was cause for alarm, Beltran said: “This series was tough for us. After we lose the first game, which I thought we were going win, it really changed the tempo of how we were playing the game. Basically, the opposing team gained confidence and they came back and basically outran us.

“We have to find a way to play better, there’s no doubt. Overall. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody. Offense, defense, pitching — we have to find a way to play better. The reality of this is, coming here to Pittsburgh and being swept — personally, I feel embarrassed.

“I don’t think it’s fun. We have to find a way to play better and to focus better and focus more on what we need to accomplish.”

Beltran was just getting started, it turned out.

“We have to play better,” he said. “There’s no doubt we have to play better. We have to take this personal, because this can’t happen. It can’t happen for us to come here and lose three games just like that. It can’t happen.”

“I know they’re a big-league ballclub, but we’re better than them,” he said. “We’re better than them. We know we’re better than them, but we have to do something about it.”

“McLouth wasn’t there and they still come out and score how many runs? Eleven? Eleven runs,” he said. “So we have to play better.” 

For one afternoon, Beltran would’ve been perfectly justified in pointing a finger at Mike Pelfrey, though it also should be noted J.J. Putz (suffering from elbow pain, apparently) proved no more effective in mop up duty than he has in middle relief.