MIAMI -- As soon as the ball left Christian Yelich's bat, Michael Conforto knew he was going to throw home.
"I knew I had the arm to get it there," Conforto said, sizing up the situation in a tied game with the bases loaded. "I had to go over the cutoff man, but … I think you've got to go for it."
The result was perhaps the finest play of Conforto's career, and easily the defensive highlight of the young season for the Mets. Conforto's throw hit Rene Rivera on the fly, giving the catcher enough time to contort his body and tag Miguel Rojas before he crossed home plate. In that fashion, the Mets temporarily preserved a seventh-inning tie in a game they would go on to lose, 3-2.
"Great play," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Mike made a great play."
Stuck in a tied game in the seventh, the Mets found trouble when Rafael Montero loaded the bases on two hits and an intentional walk. With one out, Collins turned to left-hander Jerry Blevins to face Yelich, who lined a 2-2 sinker to Conforto in left.
Though Marlins manager Don Mattingly challenged the play, the call stood when replay officials could not definitively determine that Rojas touched home plate before Rivera tagged him. Rojas insisted that "he didn't tag me," contending that Rivera "missed my arm." Rivera, for his part, said he was concerned only that a challenge would reveal he illegally blocked home plate.
It was all noise amid the backdrop of Conforto's throw, the latest in the 24-year-old's growing string of contributions to the club. Receiving another start Friday in place of Yoenis Cespedes, who was battling the flu, Conforto finished 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI -- his fifth in his last five games. Conforto has started three of those contests, forcing his way into more playing time with each successful night he submits.
Conforto's throw, which allowed Blevins to escape the jam he inherited, was simply an extension of his recent strong play. When home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn made his initial out call, Conforto animatedly pumped his fist.
"I was just excited about making a big play, keeping us in a position where we could win the game -- a better position than we would be," Conforto said. "Yeah, I was fired up."