New York (AFP) – Michael Conforto’s eyes were already red when he reached the bunker, and when his colleagues hugged him they filled with tears.
In what could be his last game at Citifield for the New York Mets, he had a pair of singles scoring twice, then doubled down and made a meager touchdown on the right field in the ninth inning which sparked a standing ovation.
“There was a lot of emotion on the court,” he said after the Mets beat the Miami Marlins 12-3 Thursday night in the final at home. “It kind of hit me at the end of the match and obviously I’m making that play and hearing the fans’ reaction.”
Coach Luis Rojas, who is nearing the end of a disappointing first season in New York under new owner Stephen Cohen, may be in his last home game. New York finished 47-34 at Citi Field and headed to NL East Champion Atlanta with a 29-49 mark on the road, confirming a record loss for the fourth time in five years.
Conforto, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft, admitted he was having trouble sleeping before his last home game before free agency. He hits 0.228 with 13 Homer and 53 RBI and brings in $12.25 million.
After catching Joe Bannick at nine, Conforto raised his hand and clicked his heart.
“This is a blue and orange bleeding guy,” Rojas said.
After the final, first base coach Tony Tarasco raised Conforto’s arms. Catcher James McCann spoke memorably at the club.
“Perhaps something I’ve never felt before,” said Conforto, in a stifled voice. “I didn’t expect to get a hug from everyone. I didn’t expect Tony to raise my hand.”
Conforto, the 28-year-old son of a synchronized Olympic swimmer, spoke to his teammates as well.
“My message to them was: It has been a difficult year. It has been difficult for all of us,” he said.
As team boss Sandy Alderson prepares to hire a new baseball chief of operations, Rojas, Conforto and right-winger Noah Syndergaard face an uncertain future.
“Playing for a team that will win, it will definitely be a big part of my thinking,” said Conforto.
Pete Alonso came twice, bringing his season total to just 37 – 12 at Citifield. The second game from slam catcher Sandy Leon came in the eighth inning for six times after Luis Madero’s Francisco Lindor arrived in his fourth Grand Slam career and ninth at home in September.
“He is one of my best teammates in my career. I had a lot of good things,” Lindor said of Conforto.
First, as Lindor said, “we should have a front desk. I know we have Sandy, but we haven’t had a general manager from the start.”
Conforto knows he has to wait.
“We’ll see what happens in the future. But for sure – I loved every second I was fortunate to play here,” said Conforto. “It is just love. And it is only mutual.”
Rich Hill claimed his first win in 13 games with the Mets, who captured the 41-year-old left-back in July from Tampa Bay. Hill (1-4 with the Mets and 7-8 overall) allowed three runs – two he got – and six hits in five innings.
McCann finished the game 0 for 16 with the green light twice in the fourth game of four games over the rookie Sean Gunter (0-1).
Miami lost for the eighth time in nine games and lost in a tie with Washington for the last in the NL East at 65-94. Lyon appeared for the sixth time at the mound this season.
Lewis Brinson put the Marlins ahead with a two-round Homer in the third game of the second deck of the left field.
Guenther, who lost his first major league decision, came in when rookie Edward Cabrera left due to a blister on the middle finger of his hand.
“Guys don’t like to get out of the games, but sometimes you just have to protect them,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
Magneuris Sierra of Miami made a jump at the center field wall to steal Alonso in fourth.
The fans are back
The Mets attracted 1,511,926 as fans return this year after the pandemic’s cut short 2020 season, which was played without spectators. Capacity did not reach 100% as of June 21.
After throwing 10 pitches during the 1-2-3 inning on Tuesday in his return from Tommy John’s surgery, Syndergaard will begin the end of the regular season on Sunday. His appearance against Miami this week was the 29-year-old’s first major league appearance since September 29, 2019.
Marlins players paid tribute to the 30-year-old when he hit at nine.
“I know it will be his last match of the year. His wife is pregnant,” Mattingly said. “Anything beyond that wouldn’t be my place to talk about it.”
MARLINS: RF Jesus Sanchez left midway through the third with a tight right hamstring after not running out of a volley in the top half.
Mets: RHP Robert Gsellman, who has been out since June 19 due to a strain of right meridians, will accompany the Mets to Atlanta and could be activated.
Marlins: RHP Sandy Alcantara (9-14, 3.09 ERA) starts Friday night against Phillies and LHP Ranger Suárez (7-5, 1.45).
Mets: RHP Tyler Megill (3-6, 4.78) kicked off the Friday series opener in Atlanta and RHP Huascar Ynoa (4-5, 3.98).
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