SEATTLE (AP) — Waiting at Michael Conforto’s locker when he returned to the clubhouse was the crown passed around by the New York Mets for whoever gets the honor as the player of the game.
On this night its significance to Conforto could not be understated.
“It’s a little more special here. It’s a dream come true for me to play out here, let alone get two home runs,” Conforto said.
Conforto returned to his hometown and hit a pair of solo home runs , Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson had two-out RBI singles in the eighth inning and the Mets rallied for a 7-5 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night after wasting a four-run lead.
Playing his first professional game at Safeco Field, Conforto excited the 30 or so friends and family he left tickets for with the fourth multi-homer game of his big league career. Conforto, who grew up in nearby Redmond, homered leading off the third inning against Ariel Miranda.
He connected again in the eighth against lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski, lining the second pitch of the inning just over the wall in right and tying the score with his 21st homer. It was the first home run allowed to a lefty this season by Rzepczynski.
The Mets kept the rally going, helped when Wilmer Flores beat out a potential inning-ending double play. Walker and Granderson followed with consecutive RBI singles off David Phelps (2-5) to cap the three-run burst.
“They know how I want to pitch,” said Phelps, who was recently acquired from Miami. “You’ve still got to go out and make pitches, it doesn’t matter how many times someone has seen you. I left a couple pitches up and they just kind of went with it.”
Conforto had plenty of attention on his return to the Pacific Northwest. He’d played one time in a high school showcase at Safeco Field and joked during pregame that the stadium seemed a lot larger as a teenager.
He made the spacious confines of the park seem small, both home runs lined shots that came early in the count. All four of his multi-homer games have come this season
“It’s a little surreal. The last time I was here on the field I was 16 years old taking batting practice and wasn’t getting anywhere close to getting balls out of this ballpark,” Conforto said. “Now it feels a little smaller.”
Jay Bruce hit his 27th home run in the first inning, a two-run shot on an 0-2 pitch, as the Mets built a 4-0 lead. New York rebounded to win for just the third time this season when trailing after seven innings.
Jerry Blevins (5-0) worked 1 1/3 innings for the win. Paul Sewald squeezed through the eighth despite allowing the first two batters to reach thanks to a strikeout of Mike Zunino and a groundout from Jean Segura with runners at second and third. Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his 19th save.
“When you fight back like that you feel pretty good about where you’re at,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We had momentum in the game, (and) the Conforto homerun turned it. Disappointing result.”
Both starting pitchers ran into trouble at different times.
Miranda struggled early giving up home runs to Bruce and Conforto, but rallied to pitch six innings and retire the final 11 batters he faced. Miranda struck out a career-high 10.
New York starter Rafael Montero was excellent through four innings, but lost command in the fifth and failed to finish the inning.
“We’ve got to correct that. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it right now because we can’t walk guys. Certainly we’ll take care of that,” Mets’ manager Terry Collins said.
Mets: New York attempted to solidify its bullpen by acquiring closer A.J. Ramos from Miami for a pair of prospects. The trade took place during the game and landed the Mets the Marlins closer for the past three seasons and an All-Star in 2016. Ramos had 20 saves in 40 games for the Marlins this year.
Mariners: Seattle traded reliever Steve Cishek to Tampa Bay for right-hander Erasmo Ramirez. It’s a reunion with Ramirez rejoining the team he broke into the majors with. Ramirez will be immediately inserted into the rotation and get his first start with Seattle next Tuesday in Texas. … The Mariners bolstered their bullpen until Ramirez arrives by recalling right-hander Casey Lawrence and selecting right-hander Cody Martin from Triple-A Tacoma. Righty starter Andrew Moore was optioned.
Mets: Jacob deGrom (12-3) looks to become the second pitcher in the National League with 13 victories. DeGrom has pitched at least eight innings in five of his past eight starts.
Mariners: Yovani Gallardo (4-7) makes his second start since rejoining the rotation. Gallardo went five innings and allowed three runs last time out against the Yankees in his first start since June 17.