NEW YORK (AP) — Commit a mistake against the New York Mets these days and they are poised to make you pay.
Michael Conforto hit a tie-breaking 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 only 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 is two games out of a wild-card spot, improved to 19-5 in its last 24 games to match a season high at five 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 shot 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, but their first game in Queens since 2004 at Shea Stadium was a flop. Cleveland split a four-game series at Yankee Stadium last weekend to begin an eight-day stay in New York City.
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.
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.
(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)