Rookie power: Conforto clubs 2 HRs in Game 4
Becomes second Mets player, third youngest in history, to achieve World Series feat
NEW YORK -- Michael Conforto's season began against the Bradenton Marauders. That's the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, which, like Conforto's St. Lucie Mets, exists three huge rungs away from the Major Leagues. His season will end this week, one way or another, in the World Series. If his rapid ascent isn't impressive enough, Conforto made sure on Saturday that his first-year journey included a lofty peak.
Before the Royals turned Game 4 of the World Series into heartbreak, before the ground ball that everyone will remember, Conforto made his World Series mark. The 22-year-old outfielder homered twice in New York's 5-3 loss, becoming the sixth Mets player to register a multi-homer game in the postseason. He's the youngest Mets player to homer in the postseason, and third youngest Major Leaguer to do it twice in a World Series game (behind Andruw Jones in 1996 and Tony Kubek in 1957). New York trails, 3-1, in the best-of-seven series (Game 5 will be on FOX on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET).
It's an accomplishment that puts him in company with Carlos Beltran, who homered twice for the Mets in Game 4 of the 2006 National Leauge Championship Series, and Gary Carter, who went deep twice in Game 4 of the 1986 World Series. Conforto and Carter are the only two Mets to accomplish the feat in a Fall Classic.
"It's humbling, and it's exciting. I'll definitely remember those moments. The feelings I got on those two home runs [were] indescribable," Conforto said. "But it's a bit conflicting. You want to get that win tonight."
Surely, the Mets' somber postgame clubhouse left little room for reflection on any positives. But Conforto's were the two main reasons New York found itself leading before the eighth inning came crashing down. Conforto's titanic solo homer off Royals starter Chris Young in the third inning gave the Mets the game's first run as it rainbowed into the Pepsi Porch. His solo homer off left-hander Danny Duffy in the fifth -- the first Duffy allowed to a left-handed batter since 2011, and Conforto's first off a southpaw -- stretched New York's lead to 3-1.
Mets manager Terry Collins has been scrupulous in his plan to shelter Conforto from left-handed pitching since his promotion July 24, even though Conforto profiles as an adaptable hitter down the road. As a result, Conforto's at-bat against Duffy was just his 18th against left-handed pitching in the Majors. That made what he did to Duffy's 2-2, 83-mph curveball -- serving it over the right-field wall -- even more notable to his coaches and teammates.
"The left-on-left [at-bat] was incredible," David Wright said. "For him to have that at-bat and take that pitch out, you can tell what kind of game plan he goes up there with, how strong he is, and what he can do in the near future when he gets to start every day."
Save for against Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester, Conforto has started every game this postseason. Collins opted for him again Saturday even though Conforto's production (.091 batting average entering Game 4) hasn't matched his peripherals.
"I'm squaring stuff up," Conforto said prior to his Game 4 outburst. "Just [have] nothing to show for it."
Now he certainly does. The Mets recovered Conforto's second home run ball for him. It sat in his locker postgame, a keepsake from a bittersweet night and a year that couldn't have started in a more unlikely place.
"You kind of forget about where you came from, and you have to be a big leaguer, a veteran guy in these big games," Conforto said. "Maybe when I take a step back when I'm not playing, I'll have a chance to look at that sort of thing."