MILWAUKEE — With Jay Bruce getting a rest day on Sunday, Mets manager Terry Collins figured he had one logical choice to move into the third spot of the lineup.
Michael Conforto celebrated his return to the middle of the order by falling just a single shy of the cycle in the Mets’ 11-9 loss to the Brewers.
“It’s all the same for me,” said Conforto, who had found recent success in the leadoff spot. “Anywhere I hit, I’m trying to get on base, I’m trying to drive the ball.”
The assignment was nothing new for Conforto, who made his 39th career start in the third spot. But he hadn’t hit there this season. It didn’t take him long to get comfortable.
Conforto’s solo shot into the upper deck in the first inning gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. After walking in the fourth, Conforto knocked in two runs with a double in the fifth by going the other way with a low and away fastball. In the seventh, Conforto tripled down the leftfield line, past the dive of Eric Thames.
Needing a single in the eighth for the his first cycle since little league, Conforto popped up. He finished 3-for-4 with four runs scored. He’s hitting .412 in 15 games on the road.
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera likely will miss his second straight game on Monday after reaggravating a left thumb injury that has plagued him for the last week.
“The way he felt today, probably not tomorrow,” manager Terry Collins said, when asked of when Cabrera can return.
The Mets have resisted placing Cabrera on the 10-day disabled list, choosing instead to play shorthanded. But even after treatment during the game on Sunday, Cabrera was never available to hit.
Cabrera is hitting .257 in 33 games. And dealing with leg injuries for much of the season, he has shown diminished range at shortstop.
Jose Reyes started in Cabrera’s place, going 2-for-5 in the leadoff spot and his single in the fifth inning broke an 0-for-11 skid. Reyes upped his average to .189.
Neil Walker continued his May resurgence, going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. But he was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
“It wasn’t just that at-bat,” Walker said of his exchange with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. “I felt that where were some calls missed, specifically on our side. So, I decided to let him know.”
Walker also cost the Mets a run in the fifth when he failed to score from third base before the Brewers tagged out Lucas Duda at second base to complete a double play.
Still, Walker upped his May average to .340 with 12 RBIs after hitting just .195 and knocking in 10 runs in April.
Catcher Rene Rivera equaled a career high by extending his hitting streak to eight games. His two-run single in the fifth gives him eight RBIs during that stretch . . . Pitcher Jacob deGrom extended his hitting streak to four games. He finished 2-for-3 including a well-struck double to the gap, raising his average to .333.