^By DAN GELSTON=
^AP Sports Writer=
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Michael Conforto has yet to have a fan section at Citi Field named in his honor, nor can he stake claim to the hottest selling jersey in baseball.
But without the national hype, it’s gone a bit hidden that Conforto’s numbers have powered closer to New York Yankees phenom Aaron Judge.
Who’s better? Well, fans can, yes, judge for themselves when the young New York sluggers try and go homer-to-homer this week in the Subway Series.
“I look at that as kind of a distraction,” Conforto said. “I’m just going to stay focused on playing the best I can, executing and not worry about all that stuff. Just go out there and try and beat him.”
Conforto and Curtis Granderson hit two-run homers to lead the New York Mets over the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 on Sunday.
The Mets continue to roll past their NL East rival, improving to 35-16 since the start of the 2015 season. Conforto and Granderson gave the Mets 96 homers over that span in the series to Philadelphia’s 38.
The Mets won three of four against the Phillies and headed back to New York for what will be the biggest games they’ll play in what has turned into a lost season _ four Subway Series matchups, albeit one without that Piazza vs. Clemens buzz.
“The young players, when they walk into Yankee Stadium tomorrow, it’s going to be a new experience for them,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “If they’re going to play and learn how to play championship caliber, they’re going to have to learn how to play in that atmosphere.”
Conforto, 24, thrived in that type of atmosphere as a rookie in 2015 when he homered twice in Game 5 of the World Series against Kansas City. He has 26 homers this season and hit 12 since the All-Star break. Judge has 35 home runs and was the All-Star Home Run Derby champion, but has gone deep just once in August headed into Sunday’s game against Boston.
“For him to have that first half was incredible,” Conforto said. “I don’t think anybody saw that coming but it was something that was fun to watch.”
Mets fans surely found a Philly baserunning blunder pretty amusing, too.
Mets starter Chris Flexen (2-1) loaded the bases in the fifth inning with no outs and Nick Williams at the plate. Williams was retired on a shallow fly to center field and Conforto’s throw home scooted away from Travis d’Arnaud. Odubel Herrera put his head down and sprinted for third, unaware Freddy Galvis hadn’t moved off the base. D’Arnaud hustled to third to complete a short toss and an 8-2-5 double play.
Herrera, who has put up some of the top offensive numbers in the major leagues since June, has become one of the more polarizing athletes in recent Philly sports history. His bat-flipping and careless baserunning have earned him fan scorn, benchings and a team fine.
“I know I’m little over aggressive sometimes. I definitely have to be smarter on the bases I know that,” he said. “I want to keep my aggressiveness.”
Herrera’s mistake was compounded on a wild pitch that scored Galvis and cut New York’s lead to 4-2. But Yoenis Cespedes, who homered in each of the last two games, getting a day off, the rest of the Mets picked up the offensive slack. They scored two more in the seventh for a 6-2 lead and gave them at least six runs in three of the four games. The Mets have won 17 of 20 series against Philadelphia.
Flexen allowed two runs, struck out five and allowed six hits in the best outing of his four career starts.
Zach Eflin (1-4) allowed Conforto’s 26th homer and Granderson’s 17th, striking out five in 5 1/3 innings.
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