Great my favorite player is now the subject of the biggest baseball controversy since Nicholas Castellanos got suspended for literally flexing on the opposing pitcher. In case you missed it, Michael Conforto had a chance to drive in the winning run during today’s 3-2 Mets win over the Marlins, but instead he looked at a couple of strikes and then stuck his elbow out over the plate to get a game-winning hit by pitch call from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa.
What’s crazy is that Kulpa looks like he’s about to call strike three right before he calls the hit by pitch. Which means he knew that Conforto’s elbow was in front of the strike zone. That should have resulted in Scooty McBooty striking out, but instead the umpires stuck with the hit by pitch call and the Mets were walk-off winners.
That was great news considering that just minutes before, the Mets were staring another L in the face with a one-run deficit to start the ninth inning. Still, I wish the umpires did the right thing and let Pete Alonso win the game instead. We all know he would have since Miami closer Anthony Bass had already allowed a game-tying home run to Jeff McNeil and base hits by Luis Guillorme and Brandon Nimmo. Let’s not pretend that the Marlins were robbed of a win today.
Speaking of that McNeil home run, it was pretty cathartic since the first Citi Field crowd since 2019 had mostly sat on its hands all game. New York jumped out in front when Dominic Smith hit a sac fly in the fifth inning, but even that was disappointing being it looked like an extra-base hit that could have scored three runs until Starling Marte ran it down in center field.
Miami bounced back quickly in the sixth when Jon Berti led off with a pinch-hit single and Corey Dickerson doubled him home. Taijuan Walker settled down and was one strike away from getting out of the inning, but Jesus Aguilar hit a clutch single through the left side to put the Marlins in front.
McNeil’s blast and the subsequent controversy ensured that the Mets didn’t fall two games under .500, but the walk-off win doesn’t solve Conforto’s issues at the plate. I love the guy to death, but he’s got to start putting his bat in front of pitches instead of his elbow pad. Over the first four games, Conforto has looked at a lot of hittable pitches and kept his bat on his shoulder until after strike three is in the catcher’s mitt.
On the young season, Conforto is 3-for-17 with five strikeouts and just one walk, with his .300 OBP being held afloat by his two hit-by-pitches from today. It’s too early to get super worried, but his approach has been troubling and Luis Rojas should consider dropping him behind Alonso and Smith in the order until he starts making more solid contact.
Conforto’s funk is just another reason I’m happy for the off day on Friday. The other being that it allows the Mets to skip the fifth starter in the rotation and get back to Jacob deGrom on Saturday. Then the Mets can put Miami in its place, get above .500 for the first time, and we can put this ridiculous game behind us.