PHOENIX — Michael Conforto just might have his good hack back.
As the Mets beat the Diamondbacks, 5-1, on Saturday night for their second win of the month, Conforto provided the surest signs yet that he is emerging from a weeks-long slump that coincided with the team’s worst stretch of the year.
Conforto finished 2-for-4 with a home run and a double, his first multi-hit game in almost three weeks and first multi-extra-base-hit game of the season. His four RBIs tied a career high and were more than the Mets as a team had scored in 11 consecutive games since June 1.
“Putting some runs on the board — doing some things we’ve been talking about doing as far as just basic baseball — is big for us,” Conforto said. “We’re just doing what we’re capable of doing. I think we were underachieving a little bit and we all recognized it. We know we’re better players than the product has been.”
Entering the night, Conforto had only two hits in 10 days, dropping his OPS to .703. One of the hits was a homer Thursday night at Chase Field, followed by an 0-for-3 effort Friday.
Conforto’s productivity Saturday came quickly. Dropped to seventh in the lineup against Arizona lefthander Patrick Corbin, he stepped up with two on and one out in the second. Corbin’s first pitch was a fastball inside and Conforto hooked it to right for a three-run home run, a low-flying laser at 112.4 mph off the bat that traveled 392 feet.
As Corbin lingered in a subpar outing (six innings, five runs), Conforto burned him again in the sixth, doubling off the rightfield wall to drive in Devin Mesoraco.
“Some of the things we’ve been working on are starting to come out on the field,” Conforto said. “We’ve been working on trying to let the ball travel [to the plate] a little bit, try to stay behind it a little bit. That’s the best way I can explain it. That’s what it feels like, at least.
“That way I have a little bit more time to recognize pitches, I can go the other way with power and just use the quickness of my hands to react on pitches in — fastball inside tonight that I hit for a homer and then a breaking ball on the inner half [for the double].”
The two extra-base hits against a lefty nearly matched his season total (three) entering the night. Conforto has three extra-base hits in two games against Corbin and two extra-base hits in 34 games against other lefthanders.
The big night came days after reports that the Mets were considering sending Conforto, who has taken a significant step back this year after his All-Star 2017, to Triple-A Las Vegas in an attempt to help him get straightened out.
General manager Sandy Alderson didn’t deny those rumors this past week.
“It certainly would be an option with him,” Alderson said. “I think right now he’s part of the solution. We’re hopeful that he will see better results, but certainly not out of the question that we could approach it. Whatever we do is going to be in his best interest, because ultimately he’s a key to our success. We certainly recognize that.”
The Mets’ offensive breakout — a relative term — was a bit of an upset against Corbin (3.48 ERA), among the better southpaws in baseball. Lefties have had an easy time this year against the Mets, who had a .199/.282/.291 slash line against them entering the night.
This time was different. The Mets hit Corbin hard early, with Conforto striking in the second and Amed Rosario doubling to left-center in the third and scoring on a wild pitch.
That turned into a rare treat for Steven Matz (3.31 ERA): pitching with a lead.
“It’s a little bit of a different mindset when you have a big lead like that early. But it’s still ‘put up zeros,’ ” Matz said. “From a mental standpoint, you have some wiggle room so you can not try to be so fine.”
Matz was efficient and effective, his norm for the past month and a half. He held the Diamondbacks to one run in 6 2⁄3 innings and has a 2.47 ERA since the start of May. Four of Matz’s past five outings have been quality starts; the lone exception was three scoreless innings ended prematurely by a minor finger issue.
The Mets pushed back Matz’s start two days when a blister on his left middle finger ripped open Wednesday. He said it didn’t bother him Saturday. Matz scattered six hits and a walk, striking out three. Arizona scored in the sixth, when Nick Ahmed tripled and came home on Paul Goldschmidt’s groundout.
Robert Gsellman escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, the Diamondbacks’ last big threat.
In the series finale Sunday, the Mets have a shot at winning consecutive games for the first time since May 18-21.
“They need to take some confidence out of tonight,’’ manager Mickey Callaway said, “because they did a really good job.”
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