Commit a mistake against the New York Mets these days and they are poised to make you pay.
Michael Conforto hit a tiebreaking homer moments after an embarrassing error by Cleveland Indians left fielder Oscar Mercado, and the resurgent Mets rolled from there to a 9-2 victory Tuesday night.
“We just have guys stepping up left and right,” Conforto said. “Just guys getting big hits in big situations. That’s what it’s all about.”
J.D. Davis also launched a two-run shot and Steven Matz (8-7) permitted one earned run in 6 1/3 innings as the Mets opened a critical homestand against a trio of pennant contenders with a resounding performance. New York (65-60), which remained two games out of a wild-card spot, has won 19 of 24 to match a season high at five games over .500.
“I think we all knew that even (though) it’s August, playoffs started today,” Davis said. “We have to have that playoff mentality, that playoff atmosphere that every game counts — especially the hole that we dug ourselves into.”
Pete Alonso hit a two-run double to cap a four-run seventh that broke it open, and Mets manager Mickey Callaway bested former boss Terry Francona in Cleveland’s first trip to Citi Field.
Before getting the New York job, Callaway enjoyed an extremely successful five-year stint as Indians pitching coach under Francona. The two still keep in touch regularly, and they had a warm visit in a coaches’ room at the ballpark in the early afternoon.
“It’s kind of cool,” Callaway said before the game. “It’ll be fun to be across the field from him.”
All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber (12-6) gave up four runs — two earned — and four hits in six innings for the Indians, who fell three games behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central. Cleveland still leads the wild-card standings.
Mercado flubbed an easy fly in shallow left in the sixth, and the Mets took advantage.
“I just dropped it,” Mercado said. “I thought I had it just like with every other flyball I’ve caught in my life, but it just popped out of my glove.”
With two outs, Conforto clocked his 27th homer on a 1-2 slider from Bieber for a two-run drive that gave the Mets a 4-2 lead.
“From there, the game just got away from us,” Francona said.
New York reliever Justin Wilson struck out Francisco Lindor and Mercado with two on to end the seventh.
Amed Rosario and Joe Panik each had an RBI single in the bottom half before Alonso’s double gave the rookie 97 RBIs.
“They’re relentless,” Callaway said about his lineup. “That’s what good teams do — they add on.”
Jason Kipnis homered early and hit an RBI single for the Indians, who split a four-game series at Yankee Stadium last weekend to begin an eight-day stay in New York City.
Cleveland’s only other road series against the Mets came in June 2004 at Shea Stadium. The only current major league ballpark the Indians have never played in is SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
KINGS OF QUEENS
New York has won 11 of 12 at Citi Field. … Matz is 6-0 with a 2.07 ERA at home this season. … Davis is batting .390 with a 1.186 OPS in 48 home games.
Indians: Two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber was shut down for two weeks with an abdominal strain, an injury he sustained in Sunday’s minor league rehab start during his comeback from a broken arm. Francona said it wouldn’t be fair to speculate about the likelihood of Kluber returning in time to impact Cleveland’s playoff push. … RHP Jefry Rodríguez (strained shoulder) pitched 1 2/3 innings in a rehab appearance for Double-A Akron. OF Bradley Zimmer (shoulder, oblique) went 1 for 3 with two RBIs as the DH. … RHP Dan Otero (shoulder inflammation) threw two scoreless innings for Triple-A Columbus. … LHP Tyler Olson (shingles) was pulled off his rehab assignment because he wasn’t feeling well. … RHP Carlos Carrasco, diagnosed in June with a treatable form of leukemia, is scheduled to pitch Thursday in relief for Akron after making his first appearance Monday. … OF Jordan Luplow (strained right hamstring) resumed sprinting in Cleveland and will be re-evaluated in a week for a return to baseball activities. He has been hitting and throwing.
Mets: Right-handed reliever Robert Gsellman, placed on the injured list last weekend, has a partially torn lat muscle that puts the rest of his season in jeopardy. … Davis returned to the lineup after missing two starts last weekend while nursing a sore calf. … OF Brandon Nimmo moved to Triple-A Syracuse on his rehab assignment and played center field for five innings. He went 2 for 3 with an RBI. Nimmo has been sidelined since May 21 because of a bulging disk in his neck. … INF Jed Lowrie began a rehab assignment as the DH for Class A St. Lucie and went 1 for 4 with an RBI.
Indians RHP Adam Plutko (5-3, 4.67 ERA) starts the second game of the series Wednesday night against RHP Marcus Stroman, who is 7-11 with a 3.21 ERA overall this season between the Blue Jays and Mets. Plutko won last week at Yankee Stadium.
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