NEW YORK -- There was plenty to like about Adam Conley's performance Wednesday at Citi Field. The Marlins left-hander struck out a career-high nine, including slugger Yoenis Cespedes three straight times, and tallied six scoreless innings.
From a throwing standpoint, the 25-year-old did all you could ask. So why did the day leave a bitter taste in his mouth after the Mets edged Miami, 2-1?
At the plate, Conley agonized over twice being unable to drop down sacrifice bunts. On a day every squandered opportunity was magnified, the art of bunting spoiled an otherwise uplifting performance.
"For me, that's what today is really about, because I'm one of those nine guys in the lineup," Conley said. "When the offense is slow like that, I have a job to do. Twice I was asked to give myself up and put a guy over there, and I wasn't able to get it done."
The first attempt came in the third, after Miguel Rojas singled. After Conley struck out bunting, Dee Gordon bounced into a 3-6-3 double play for the first time in his career.
In the fifth, with one out, Conley was again unsuccessful.
"That's a big deal," Conley said. "I don't know if guys put enough value in that, but to me, that's a big deal when the offense is slow like that. If I can move a guy over and bring up a guy behind me, everyone in the world knows what Dee can do with a pitch.
"If I put a guy in scoring position there, it just changes the game. I'm happy with the results on the mound, but really not good enough at the plate today."
On the mound, Conley was fantastic. The nine strikeouts surpassed the eight he posted Sept. 23, 2015, against the Phillies.
What did manager Don Mattingly see from Conley?
"What we'd seen all spring, and that was a good sign," Mattingly said. "He came out aggressively, works quickly, and continues to work quickly. He didn't really back off of anything. Hopefully, this is what we're going to see, consistent outings like that. Our guys are giving us a chance to win. You can't really ask for anything more."
Conley allowed four hits, walked one and was lifted after 93 pitches.
The Mets tested him in the fourth, loading the bases with one out. But Conley retired Wilmer Flores on a popup to first and struck out Asdrubal Cabrera on a 85-mph slider.
"You know your whole life, that's it right there," Conley said. "For me on the mound, and my day, that's it right there. If a guy runs into a ball right there, who knows what happens. It's not that you're trying to change what you're doing. It's just a focus that right there, you've got to make pitches. I did right there, and we got out of it."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.