Michael Conforto saves Edwin Diaz in Mets' win over Atlanta
Technically, officially, formally, Edwin Diaz got the save in the Mets’ 2-1 win against Atlanta on Wednesday.
But it was Michael Conforto who saved Diaz.
Conforto threw out Abraham Almonte, the would-be tying run, at the plate for the penultimate out of the game with an on-the-fly strike to catcher James McCann, who applied the tag to Almonte’s side about as his foot hovered above the plate.
Jubilation ensued at Citi Field.
"It’s the best feeling in the world," Conforto said. "I can’t put into words what it feels like. I’m still sort of shaking from it right now."
Added Brandon Drury, who hit the eventual game-winning homer in the seventh: "That was an unbelievable play. It’s clutch, late in the game. He’s got a rocket. Right on the money. Clutch. Amazing."
And Tylor Megill, who was watching from the dugout after allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings: "I about screamed my lungs off."
Almonte began the inning with a double. With one out, he was trying to score from second on pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza’s line-drive single to right. Conforto fielded it on a single hop and heaved for one of the most memorable defensive highlights of his career — one he said he visualized in the moments before it happened (along with other possibilities for that at-bat).
He told McCann in the postgame handshake line: "Great tag."
"That’s the other half of the play," said Conforto, who was happy to contribute on a night when he went 0-for-2 to drop his average to .207 and OPS to .677. "It’s a guy coming full speed at you. You have to squeeze the ball. You gotta put the tag on him. It’s tough to track the guy down when you’re watching the ball. It’s another great play."
Manager Luis Rojas said: "You can’t make a better throw than that. For McCann to catch the throw and apply the tag that he did to complete the play, it was just a great all-around play on both ends. But Conforto, of course — he is the one who set the tone with the timing, charging the ball, getting rid of it and the perfect throw."
With a runner still on second, because Adrianza advanced during the big play, Pablo Sandoval lined out to leftfield against Diaz to end it. That gave the Mets (54-46) a shot at winning the five-game series against Atlanta (50-52) heading into the finale Thursday afternoon.
The other major assist came from Jeurys Familia, who stranded Aaron Loup’s two runners in scoring position in the eighth. Familia struck out Austin Riley, perhaps Atlanta’s hottest hitter, and induced a groundout to shortstop from Dansby Swanson.
He called it his biggest appearance of the season.
"My sinker this year feels like the best it’s ever been in my career," Familia said through an interpreter.
Drury’s blast came against Max Fried (seven innings, two runs). Since being called back up to the Mets on Saturday, Drury is 6-for-6 with two homers and two doubles — all off the bench.
Jeff McNeil finished 2-for-4, extending his hit streak to 15 games, longest in the majors and longest of his career. He is halfway to the Mets’ record of 30, held by Moises Alou, Rojas’ brother.
Megill, who turned 26 on Wednesday, scattered five hits and a walk and struck out six. Riley’s solo homer to center ended his outing and his 17 2/3-inning scoreless streak.
His ERA is 2.04. The only Mets rookie to do better over his first seven starts was Nolan Ryan (1.99).
The latest effort was plenty to keep the Mets in the game until the dramatics from Drury and Diaz — and Conforto.
"I blacked out," Megill said. "That’s so huge."