The Mets were 7-0 in Taijuan Walker’s home starts going into Friday night’s game against the Pirates, the team with the second-worst record in the National League.
So what could go wrong?
Very little, it turned out. Walker left after five innings in a tie game, but the Mets sent 13 men to the plate and scored 10 runs in the sixth to remain unbeaten in Walker’s home starts with a 13-4 victory before 20,350.
After the game, manager Luis Rojas announced that Walker had been added to the NL All-Star team for Tuesday’s game in Denver. It’s Walker’s first All-Star nod.
In announcing earlier this week that he was declining to go to Denver, All-Star Jacob deGrom suggested his spot could rightly go to teammate Walker.
"I found out after the game, obviously," said Walker, who allowed two runs and is 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 16 starts. "I was just a little upset — I went five innings today — I was a little down about that. But then, obviously, I got named to the All-Star Game and all the emotions . . . it’s finally starting to come and hit me now. Everyone’s texting me. I’ve got my family texting me. So it’s really cool."
Said Francisco Lindor: "Getting to see him go and get the notice that he deserves — I think there’s more guys that should have been All-Stars on our team — but getting him to the All-Star Game is special, for sure."
Asked what he’s most excited about, Walker said: "To watch Pete [Alonso] win the Home Run Derby."
Alonso had a three-run home run and Lindor added a grand slam in the 10-run sixth as the Mets turned a nail-biter into a laugher.
"Special inning," Rojas said. "We can’t get used to those. We know those don’t happen every day."
The win went to Aaron Loup (3-0), who pitched a scoreless top of the sixth. Jonathan Villar hit a pair of solo home runs for the Mets, who host the Pirates in a single-admission doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 4:10 p.m.
Friday’s game included a 41-minute rain delay in the bottom of the eighth with the Mets leading 13-3.
With the game tied at 2, Brandon Nimmo led off the bottom of the sixth with a single against Pittsburgh starter JT Brubaker (4-9). Nimmo was back in the lineup after being left out of it for Thursday’s rained-out game because of a sore left shoulder.
Lindor walked before Dom Smith grounded an RBI single to right to give the Mets a 3-2 lead and bring up Alonso.
Pirates pitching coach Oscar Marin visited Brubaker. Alonso smoked the next pitch over the wall in right-center for his 16th home run (only his second at home) and a 6-2 lead.
Lefthander Sam Howard came in and retired one of six batters. He was eventually charged with five runs.
Against Howard, Jeff McNeil singled, Michael Conforto walked, Villar struck out, James McCann walked to load the bases, pinch hitter Jose Peraza was hit by a pitch to drive in a run, and Nimmo walked to drive in another to make it 8-2.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton called on righthander Kyle Keller, who served up an opposite-field grand slam to Lindor on his second pitch to make it 12-2. It was Lindor’s third career grand slam, his first as a Met, and his 10th home run of 2021.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the second when Walker hit .135-hitting catcher Michael Perez with a pitch with the bases loaded. Walker recovered to get Brubaker to bang into an inning-ending double play.
Villar, batting lefthanded, tied the game with a leadoff homer in the third. The Mets went ahead later in the inning on Nimmo’s one-out RBI double. The Pirates tied it at 2 in the fifth on Adam Frazier’s RBI single.
Villar hit his second solo shot in the seventh, this time batting righthanded. Villar has eight home runs.
West Islip native and former Stony Brook pitcher Nick Tropeano made his Mets debut in the seventh and allowed one run in two innings. Tropeano also struck out in the seventh in his first plate appearance since 2016.
Tropeano, 30, was on the Yankees’ roster for two days last season, but did not get into a game.
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