Mets hit six home runs, get excellent outing from Taijuan Walker, in rout of Orioles

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BALTIMORE – One night after getting blown out by the Orioles, the Mets returned the favor and took over Camden Yards with six home runs and an excellent performance from Taijuan Walker.

Pete Alonso, Billy McKinney, Mason Williams, and Kevin Pillar all homered, with McKinney and Pillar busting out for two-dinger days in the Mets’ 14-1 rout over the Orioles on Wednesday. It was the kind of offensive performance fans expected against a last-place Orioles team, made possible in part because the Mets’ former ace was on the mound for Baltimore.

The Mets (30-24) finished strong on their nine-game, three-city road trip with a 5-4 record. With exactly one-third of their season over, the Mets have been in first place in the National League East for 32 consecutive days. They finished the trip that stretched from Arizona, San Diego and Baltimore with a 3.5-game lead over the Braves.

“It’s something that’s never really discussed, the fact that we’re in first place,” Pillar said. “With everything that’s been going on, it doesn’t necessarily feel like that all the time, as far as feeling like we’re a first-place team. Our mindset and our confidence resembles that.”

Matt Harvey pitched like his career is coming to an end. The Mets tagged him for seven earned runs on eight hits and knocked him out of his start after just three innings. Combined with the last time he faced his old team, complete with an emotional ovation from fans at Citi Field, the Amazin’s have rallied for 14 earned runs in 7.1 innings against Harvey this season. His ERA shot up to 7.41, nothing like the All-Star pitcher who helped the Mets get to the World Series in 2015.

“He’s still got really good stuff,” Pillar said of Harvey. “He’s got multiple pitches. We just did a really good job making him throw the ball over the middle of the plate. We feel like that’s where the damage was today.”

But this is 2021, and the Mets were happy that Walker (5-2) was on the mound twirling nine strikeouts across 93 dominant pitches. He lowered his ERA to 2.07 after seven innings of one-run ball, retiring 17 of his last 19 batters faced, and even turned a terrific defensive play on a comebacker off that bat at 101.1 mph that he deflected with his glove, stumbled and fired a throw to first for the out.

Walker’s 2.07 ERA ranks fifth in the National League and sixth in the majors. Owning the lowest ERA in MLB is, of course, Jacob deGrom with an almost invisible 0.62 ERA.

“Walker just had everything on,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “All his pitches were on. The fastball, he had the two-seam, he had the sinker, he had the curve. Everything. you name it, he had it.”

Mets hitters boosted their confidence in their home-run party against the Orioles’ pitching staff on Wednesday. Even when they held a 10-run lead in the ninth, they poured it on for three more. McKinney, whom the Mets picked up just two weeks ago in a trade with the Brewers, has four home runs in just 12 games since coming to Queens. The outfielder has flashed a quick bat speed and strong defensive plays, making a case for himself to remain on the roster ahead of the Mets’ roster crunch in the coming weeks.

“Everybody is going into the game trying to win,” McKinney said. “It’s not about individual stats, it’s not selfish. It’s very team-oriented and it starts from the top.”

With most Orioles fans out of the stadium by the seventh inning, the large assembly of Mets fans turned Camden Yards into a home-field vibe. “Let’s Go Mets!” chants broke out in earnest after Pillar and Williams crushed back-to-back homers in the eighth.

“It’s been surprising to me to see the amount of support that we’ve gotten on the road,” Pillar said. “When you get on the road, it might be the only opportunity for a New York Mets fan that lives in this Baltimore area to see us play. So the energy has been more than I could ever imagine.”

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