Duo hits back-to-back homers, combines to notch four RBIs
By Troy Provost-Heron
NEW YORK -- Neil Walker and Michael Conforto watched from the bench as the Mets dropped their series finale in Milwaukee on Sunday and their series opener against Pittsburgh on Tuesday, as the club combined to score just three runs on 10 hits in those two games.
The duo also sat on the sidelines as New York put up a season-high 19 hits and scored 11 runs on Wednesday. When the two returned to the starting lineup on Thursday, they helped keep the Mets' offense hot, going a combined 4-for-8 with two homers and four RBIs in the Mets' 6-4 victory over the Pirates at Citi Field.
"It was good to go out and not worry about anything that's going on physically," Walker said. "It was good to contribute and it was good to get a win and win the series. ... More than anything, it was good to put up some runs and kind of see that confidence start to come back in our lineup."
Walker had missed the previous three games with lower back tightness, while Conforto was held out of the Mets' starting lineup in the previous three games due to sprained cartilage in his left wrist.
With the Mets already in possession of a 2-0 lead, Walker unloaded on an 86-mph slider from Pirates starter Juan Nicasio and sent it a projected 401 feet away from home plate, according to Statcast™, and into the seats in right-center field for a two-run shot.
Then, on the next pitch, Conforto took another Nicasio slider and also sent it over the wall in right-center.
It was the eighth time this season the Mets have hit back-to-back home runs, the last time coming on May 23 at Washington when Yoenis Cespedes and Walker did it against Gio Gonzalez.
Walker added an RBI double off the wall in left to extend the Mets' lead to 6-0 in the fifth and Conforto followed with a single, marking his first multihit game since May 20.
"It was good to have a little time off, but I can tell you that I was excited to be back in there," said Conforto, who also made a spectacular diving catch in left field to save a run in the first inning. "I was fired up and I had a lot of fun today."
Walker has proven to be one of the Mets' most consistent hitters throughout the season, hitting .275 with 14 homers and 28 RBIs, so Thursday was a return to the norm. Before injuring his wrist, though, Conforto had been mired in a slump, hitting just .093 (5-for-53) over a 16-game stretch.
"I think the four days helped a lot," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I think it gave him a chance to rest his wrist and let the medication take effect -- he said it didn't bother him at all.
"I think it allowed him to catch his breath a little bit. I saw much better bat speed today then I've seen, and hopefully that is a sign of good things to come."
Over the last two days, the Mets' offense has showed signs of life as well, and with two of their more prominent hitters back from injury, they're hoping that this production can continue.
"Everybody kind of goes through some things through the course of the year," Walker said. "We've been bit pretty hard here the last couple of weeks, but that's something we talk about. Whoever is in there, whatever the case may be, we can't be feeling sorry for ourselves.
"These last two days were very indicative of guys going out there and trusting themselves, believing in themselves and putting up some runs."
Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.