Taijuan Walker throws jewel as Mets knocks out Rockies
DENVER — Taijuan Walker was fabulous for six innings on Sunday, but could the Mets get another three outs from him to help a taxed bullpen?
With a boost from his defense, Walker got those outs. Adam Ottavino, Joely Rodriguez and Edwin Diaz did the rest in a 2-0 win over the Rockies at Coors Field.
For the second time in three starts, Walker fired a seven-inning shutout. In that one, he allowed five hits with two walks and six strikeouts, allowing the Mets (28-15) to leave town with a streak win. In 13 series this season, the Mets are 11-1-1.
Buck Showalter was rewarded for his faith in giving Walker the seventh pitch when Luis Guillorme’s jump stop on Brian Serven’s third-place grounder ended the final out. This was after Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil made a double play on Jose Iglesias’ grounder.
“You know we have guys that go out and dive for the ball and try to make every play when the ball is put in play,” Walker said. “When I get runners, I try to say to myself, ‘Bottomball, do a double play,’ and that’s what we did today.”
That baseball field, a mile above sea level, might be hell for most pitchers, but it was nirvana for Walker: In five career starts with Coors, he is 3-1 and has a 2.03 ERA.
“I think maybe it’s my splinter: if I hold it down, it cuts, goes down and in, just does a little bit of everything,” Walker said.
The Mets had one final threat from the Rockies to survive in the eighth, but it took Rodriguez just a pitch to pull Ryan McMahon back with the ties on base. In the ninth, Diaz hit two and allowed a single before recording his 10th save.
Lindor’s RBI single in the sixth produced the game’s first run. Brandon Nimmo led the inning with a sharp single to the right that Randal Grichuk booted, giving Nimmo third place. After the infield moved in, Lindor hammered a single through the third base hole. McNeil followed with a bloop double to the left and Pete Alonso’s RBI groundout extended the lead to 2-0.
Not overlooked was Nimmo’s rush, which steered the bases to Grichuk’s misplay.
“We won the game on the spot – Nimmo ruling the bases, swinging it and playing hard,” Lindor said. “It’s very contagious when guys do that, so it was a great team win today.”
The Rockies’ threat against Walker in the seventh game began when Grichuk and Brendan Rodgers played back-to-back singles that led the inning before the Mets turned over the double play and Guillorme’s diving stop became the final out.
Guillorme also had two hits and holds an .857 OPS in his part-time role.
“I’ve been in that situation my whole career after coming off the bench,” said Guillorme. “I got a chance and did my best.”
Other opportunities against Walker were limited. In the fifth, Iglesias and Serven delivered back-to-back singles before Walker retired Connor Joe. The Rockies also put two runners on base in the first, but Walker knocked out McMahon to end the threat. Walker’s securing of third place on CJ Cron’s single saved Nimmo from a throwing error and a run score.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I know it’s the little things that win ballgames,” Walker said. “When I’m not there, the run scores and then I’m mad at myself and everything can turn around from there.”
The Mets, who shared a doubleheader the day before (and lost the nightcap), won a 14th straight game after one loss. Their last consecutive losses came on April 10-11 to the Nationals and the Phillies.
“It’s a pretty stable mental team,” Showalter said. “They didn’t come up with ‘The sky is falling.’ It’s tough, it’s not just the sport it’s society we all want to know something about before it happens so we say ‘if that happens, this could happen’. They don’t live in this world and we hope it continues that way.”
https://nypost.com/2022/05/22/taijuan-walker-throws-a-gem-as-mets-shutout-rockies/ Taijuan Walker throws jewel as Mets knocks out Rockies