Saturday, June 18, 2022

Walker Stomps On Marlins


Taijuan Walker rears back and fires a pitch to Jorge Soler. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets beat the Marlins, 3-2, on Saturday evening at a brisk, breezy Citi Field, powered by a great outing from starting pitcher Taijuan Walker.

The Mets improved to 44-23, and they increased their lead in the National League East to 6 1/2 games over the Atlanta Braves, who lost to the Chicago Cubs, 6-3, their second straight loss at Wrigley Field after they won 14 in a row.

Walker improved to 5-2 on the season, and lowered his ERA (earned run average) to 2.88 as he had one of his best performances this season. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on two hits and a walk, with nine strikeouts. He now has 19 strikeouts in his last two starts, second most in a two-game span in his career (6/9/21 - 6/15/21). It was his first career win against the Marlins in six tries.

The right-hander, in his second year with the Mets, is certainly on a roll, as he has a 2.42 ERA (13 earned runs over 48.1 innings) over his last eight starts, and he has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of his last 11 starts.

In the top of the first, Miami's leadoff hitter, Jon Berti, did everything possible to get his team the lead, as he got a single, then stole second and third base, but his team didn't reward him for it. Walker struck out the next three hitters - Jazz Chisholm, Jr., Jorge Soler, and Garrett Cooper - all looking at strike three to get out of the inning.

That would begin a run for Walker in which he retired eighteen Marlins in a row until Chisholm walked to open the seventh before he eventually scored on the Marlins’ second hit of the game, a double by Avisail Garcia that made the Mets’ lead 3-1 at the time. That was all for Walker, as he approached 100 pitches and Drew Smith got out of the inning.

The Mets gave Walker the lead in the second when they manufactured a run, as Mark Canha got a one-out single, then J.D. Davis walked, and both of them tagged up on an Eduardo Escobar fly ball to deep right. Up next was Jeff McNeil, who was hitting in the eighth spot in this one (only Manager Buck Showalter could get a .324 hitter to bat there without a revolt), and he laced a single to bring home Canha and make it 1-0. It was McNeil's 33rd RBI of the season. Tomas Nido flew out to right to end the inning.

In the third, Starling Marte got a one-out single, and that brought Francisco Lindor to the plate, and he blasted one to left field for a two-run shot to make it 3-0. 

Francisco Lindor exults after crossing the plate. Photo by Jason Schott.

This was the Mets shortstop's 11th home run of the season, and second in as many days, with his homer on Friday night a three-run shot that went into the black in center field by the Home Run Apple.

It would stay that way until the seventh when Jazz Chisholm, Jr., walked to open the inning, and he made the most of it, as he stole second, then tagged up on a flyout by Cooper for the second out.

Avisail Garcia then got the first Marlins hit since Berti’s single to lead off the game, and it was a double to bring in Chisholm to make it 3-1 and that was it for Walker.

Drew Smith came on and he struck out Lewin Diaz to get out of it, and he stayed on for the eighth, and retired Miami in order, and notched two strikeouts.

Edwin Diaz came on for the ninth, and Berti led off with a single, and as he did it in the first, he looked to ran, and he stole second and took third on a throwing error by Mets catcher Tomas Nido. This was Berti's third steal of the day (to go along with the pair he nabbed in the first, and it was the third time in his career he stole at least three bases, all against the Mets.

Chisholm was up next, and he struck out looking at a wicked four-seam fastball that took a severe hook to catch the inside corner. Chisholm couldn't believe it, and he started demonstratively showing what he thought of the third strike call, and he was ejected by home plate umpire Adam Beck. 

Soler struck out for the second out, but Cooper kept them alive as he got a single to bring in Berti and make it 3-2 Mets.

Diaz then struck out Garcia to end it, and he earned his 14th save of the season.

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