CLEVELAND — When Terry Collins and the rest of his coaching staff arrived at Progressive Field on Friday, the topic of conversation was no different than it has been on bar stools, talk radio and social media.
What could be done to jolt the Mets’ stumbling offense?
Perhaps, they have an answer. With a reshuffled lineup, the Mets pounded a season-high four homers in a 6-5 victory over the Indians, snapping a string of anemic offensive performances.
The Indians pulled within a run with two outs in the ninth after Carlos Santana hammered a two-run shot off setup man Addison Reed.
Summoned for the sixth time in the Mets’ nine games, closer Jeurys Familia allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base, including Marlon Byrd’s RBI single. But Familia got Jose Ramirez to fly out, stranding a pair of runners on base to stifle the rally and record his third save.
The Mets seized control with a five-run fifth inning, powered by homers from Yoenis Cespedes, Alejandro De Aza and Neil Walker.
Cespedes was still too sore to play the outfield two days after his leap into the stands. But his legs weren’t too banged up to circle the bases on a two-run shot, one of his three hits on the night.
De Aza started in centerfield for the first time this year, then took advantage by hitting a solo homer, part of his three-hit evening. Walker hadn’t homered off a lefthanded pitcher since 2014, yet he took lefty reliever Ross Detwiler deep for a two-run shot, capping the Mets’ five-run outburst in the fifth.
All of it was started by Michael Conforto. The promising young leftfielder homered in his first at-bat in his first start this season as the No. 3 hitter. Later, he began the fifth inning rally with a two-out infield single.
“We talked at length today with the coaches,” Collins said before the game, as he explained Conforto’s ascent in the lineup. “And they all kind of thought that he’s swinging pretty good, he’s getting on base, that he might have to move up a little bit.”
Conforto insisted that his spot in the order did little to change his preparation. But before the game, he acknowledged the vote of confidence that came with hitting behind David Wright and ahead of Cespedes.
“It shows me that Terry and the coaching staff, they believe I’m a guy who can drive in some runs,” Conforto said. “But as far as if it changes anything or if it means anything different to me, I’m excited to be there. It’s definitely where I want to be.”
Perhaps, he should get used to it.
The Mets had scored just 2.5 runs per game in their first eight games of the season and they ranked at or near the bottom in several major offensive categories. But the shuffled order produced four homers — doubling their total of two in their first eight games. By night’s end, the Mets had a season-high 14 hits.
“When you’re not hitting, you’ve got to try to maybe do a little something different,” said Collins, who watched the Mets (4-5) win consecutive games after ending a four-game skid.
Veteran righthander Bartolo Colon (1-1) earned his 219th career victory, tying him with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez for the second most among pitchers born in the Dominican Republic. He trails only Juan Marichal (243).
Colon, 42, didn’t have his sharpest command. But he made the most of the cushion he was granted, holding the Indians to two runs and eight hits in 5 1⁄3 innings.
For the first time in a close game, Collins leaned on lefty Antonio Bastardo, who delivered 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings in relief of Colon.
Mets admit “mistake.” The Mets responded to the controversy that erupted after it was revealed that they auctioned off the jersey worn by Mike Piazza when he homered in the first game after Sept. 11. “We admit that we made a mistake, and have instituted a new process with internal controls to prevent something like this from happening again in the future,” the club said in a statement.