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Michael Conforto comes up big in Mets’ doubleheader sweep

Michael Conforto is the Mets’ longest-tenured position player, arriving midseason on the way to a World Series appearance in 2015 before enduring a few rough patches with the team and its demanding fan base in the ensuing years.

Conforto stroked the single that scored the tying run in the ninth inning — with Javier Baez scoring from first base on an error on the same play — for a rousing 6-5 win Tuesday over the Marlins. It was the Mets’ first game after Baez and Francisco Lindor had apologized earlier in the day for the “thumbs-down” celebration controversy that had engulfed the team over the previous two days.

Conforto also ripped a two-run homer in a 3-1 win in the nightcap to help complete the doubleheader sweep.

“I came up in ’15 and we were kind of on a hot streak. Everything seemed like sunshine and roses, and you kind of take that for granted sometimes,” Conforto said between games. “It’s really tough to win here. It’s really tough to win, period, in Major League Baseball.

Michael Conforto
Corey Sipkin/NY POST

“I didn’t experience the toughness of this city until 2016. I had a tough time, and we’ve had some tough years [since]. There’s obviously a difference in the way the fans react, but they’re passionate. And we have a very passionate team, particularly this year. So I think maybe that’s why the past couple of days happened.”

Baez had said Sunday that the thumbs-down gesture was directed at fans who’d been booing the team, but, as Conforto mentioned, they held a team meeting before the doubleheader to address the issue, which team president Sandy Alderson had called “totally unacceptable.”

“Really, it wasn’t something that we sat down and talked about that we were going to do. So whether or not I was going to go and try to stop it, I don’t really know what I was going out there to stop,” Conforto said. “But it’s in the past now. We’ve addressed it, we’ve dealt with it, and now we’re ready to move forward and play baseball and look forward to winning more games.”

The Mets notched their third of four straight wins following a 6-19 stretch by scoring five runs in the ninth inning of the opener, starting with a two-run homer by Brandon Nimmo and an RBI infield single by Baez for a 5-4 game.

Conforto had been hitless in his previous nine at-bats after a pop-up with two runners aboard in the eighth, and showed his frustration in the dugout afterward, slamming his bat and helmet against the bat rack.

He laced an opposite-field single against reliever Dylan Floro to score Pete Alonso from second, with Baez sliding home with the running run after Jorge Alfaro booted the ball in left. Conforto added a two-run blast into the right-field overhang in the fourth inning of Game 2 for his 10th of the season.

“I feel like I’m less focused on a sustained stretch of being hot and more on being ready to hit every single pitch,” said Conforto, who is batting just .217 in his free-agent walk year. “That seems to allow my natural ability to come out … and just simplify everything.

“At this point I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team win. That’s what we need right now.”

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