PHILADELPHIA — Michael Conforto’s timing at the plate no longer appears to be a problem. His timing in the game? For a night, in the Mets’ 3-1 win against the Phillies on Friday, it was perfect.
Entrenched in a deep slump, Conforto showed signs of emergence with a night of hard-hit balls. The final one was a go-ahead two-run home run in the ninth inning with the Mets two outs away from what would have been another loss. Devin Mesoraco followed with a home run on the next pitch from Phillies closer Hector Neris for his first hit as a Met.
“We haven’t had that jubilation feeling in a long time,” manager Mickey Callaway said.
Everything leading up to the homer by Conforto — who began his weekend with a .191 average and .303 slugging percentage and found himself batting seventh for a second game in a row — instilled confidence in Callaway. Conforto singled in the second, a grounder hit hard enough to sneak up the middle. In the fourth, his sharp line drive — 107.7 mph off the bat — was caught in left-centerfield.
“Your one goal is to hit the ball hard somewhere,” said Conforto, who walked in the seventh after falling behind 0-and-2 against Jake Arrieta.
That was enough to inspire Callaway to say to first-base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. at the start of the ninth inning, “We need to get somebody on because Conforto is going to hit a homer.”
“You could feel it, the way he was swinging the bat,” Callaway said afterward.
Conforto nearly delivered earlier in his game-winning at-bat, hooking one deep but foul in right. “That was the half-jubilation to ugh,” Callaway said.
Said Conforto: “It’s like getting punched in the stomach a little bit.”
Two pitches later, Conforto straightened it out with a line drive off the facing of the second deck, a 428-foot shot pretty enough and dramatic enough to admire.
“I watched it a little bit,” he acknowledged with a grin. “I usually don’t, but I did.”
The Mets’ dugout had barely simmered down by the time Mesoraco, thinking Neris would want to get ahead in the count, swatted a first-pitch slider over the heart of the plate to leftfield.
“Getting back in the dugout was awesome. Guys were fired up,” Conforto said. “You could feel the energy and I just heard a loud crack and watched Mesoraco’s go. It was a fun 30 seconds or so.”
Those two swings turned things around for the Mets, who have struggled offensively this month. In eight out of 10 May contests, they have scored three or fewer runs. Only one of their starters Friday has an average above .250 — Asdrubal Cabrera, who remains the only Met consistently producing, including a 2-for-3 night with a double and a walk Friday.
Conforto and Mesoraco combined to save the Mets after they collectively flailed against Arrieta, who cruised through 7 1⁄3 shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks.
Steven Matz’s five innings of one-run ball was a master class in tightrope-walking. He scattered five hits, four walks and a hit batsman, stranding multiple runners in three innings. Philadelphia went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base against Matz, who lowered his ERA to 3.86. The only run came on Odubel Herrera’s first-inning homer.
“He didn’t have anything tonight,” Callaway said. “He was up the whole game, but he stayed focused, he didn’t let things unravel and he kept us in the ballgame.”
Callaway stressed that it was just one game — one inning of one game — but the win brought a vibe that was common a month ago and much less since.
“It can be a big jump-start for a team,” Conforto said. “We have to come out tomorrow and play the same way, do all the same things, execute. But we’re feeling good tonight, and that’s a good thing.”
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