PHOENIX -- Entering this weekend, the Mets' list of offensive maladies was as long as it was diverse. They had averaged 1.5 runs over their previous 11 games, with easily the Majors' lowest OPS since the start of May. Some players were injured. Others were slumping. Others, some combination of
PHOENIX -- Entering this weekend, the Mets' list of offensive maladies was as long as it was diverse. They had averaged 1.5 runs over their previous 11 games, with easily the Majors' lowest OPS since the start of May. Some players were injured. Others were slumping. Others, some combination of both.
Few issues were as vexing as the struggles of Michael Conforto, who, coming off an All-Star campaign, was supposed to form the backbone of New York's offense. Perhaps those worries, at least, have come to an end. Less than a week after snapping an 0-for-22 funk, Conforto broke out on Saturday with a home run and four RBIs in a 5-1 win over the D-backs that ended the Mets' four-game losing streak.
"Putting some runs on the board … is big for us," Conforto said. "We're just doing what we're capable of doing. I think we were underachieving a little bit. We all recognized it. We know we're better players than the product has been."
Coming into the night, the Mets pinned their hopes against lefty Patrick Corbin on a lineup featuring seven right-handed bats. But their two lefties, Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, did the most damage. The former hit a three-run homer in the second inning and an RBI double in the sixth, while the latter singled twice, scored once and stole a base.
All told, the Mets scored five runs off Corbin, giving their own starting pitcher, Steven Matz, plenty of cushion. Matz responded with his fourth quality start in his last five tries, improving to 2-2 with a 2.47 ERA in eight starts since the beginning of May.
"I think the best way to put it is I'm not white-knuckling it out there," Matz said. "If I get a runner on … I'm just doing the same thing I do with nobody on. I think that's the biggest difference."
Matz, like Conforto, has trouble defining exactly what's different when he's thriving. Mets officials have often speculated that Conforto's recovery from shoulder surgery leaked into the regular season. Conforto believes some mechanical issues at the plate may have been at fault.
Whatever the cause, Conforto's slump appears to fading, if not already a thing of the past. Since snapping his 0-for-22 skid, Conforto has reached base safely in eight of 15 plate appearances, offering glimpses of the lineup anchor that he knows he can be.
"We all felt like we wanted to get things going," Conforto said. "For me personally, it's something I've been through before. I didn't feel like I put any extra pressure on myself. … Hopefully we have the bats going now. I think we did a lot of good things tonight, and hopefully we can keep it rolling."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Quiet for most of the evening, the D-backs brought the tying run to the plate when Matz allowed a pair of two-out singles, and Robert Gsellman hit Jonathan Jay to load the bases in the seventh. The next batter, Nick Ahmed, sent a chopper back up the middle, where Asdrubal Cabrera speared it to complete an inning-ending fielder's choice, preserving Matz's quality start.
"Gsellman did a great job of making a good pitch," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "And our middle infielders, it was a nice heads-up play by both of them -- for Rosario to be there, and for Cabrera to get over there and have the wherewithal to throw to second, because it would have been a very close play at first base."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Rocketing off his bat at 112.4 mph, per Statcast™, Conforto's home run was the second-hardest of his career, trailing only a 115 mph shot against the Braves as a rookie. It came two days after Conforto hit the second-longest homer of his career, 445 feet off Matt Koch.
HE SAID IT
"Oh, it was awesome. It's better than jogging in. It's comfortable, you know? Nice, soft cushions. We need one of those." -- Gsellman, on riding Chase Field's bullpen cart to the mound
• Thor laughs as Gsellman rides D-backs' bullpen cart
The Mets will grow healthier for their series finale Sunday at Chase Field, with plans to welcome closer Jeurys Familia (right shoulder soreness) back from the disabled list and outfielder Jay Bruce (lower back soreness) back to the starting lineup. Zack Wheeler will start that 4:10 p.m. ET game opposite D-backs right-hander Clay Buchholz.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.