CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 04: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the...

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 04: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets celebrates his three-run home run with Tomas Nido #3 and Mark Canha #19 in the second inning at Great American Ball Park on July 04, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/Justin Casterline

CINCINNATI — On a night when the fireworks were aplenty for the Mets, it was Brandon Nimmo who provided the first — and biggest — sparks.

They beat the Reds, 7-4, for their 50th win of the season on Monday night behind Nimmo’s big game: 2-for-4 with a three-run home run, a walk and a 12-pitch at-bat that ended with a lineout but included four consecutive fouls of 100-mph fastballs.

Most of his plate appearances either were downright productive or otherwise instructive. He began the game with a single, rocketing a ground ball at 107 mph to rightfield, illustrating that Reds rookie righthander Hunter Greene was very hittable despite his triple-digit fastball. When he batted again in the second, Nimmo crushed a three-run home run to right-center for the first runs of the game. His marathon at-bat came in the fifth, with Greene ramping up his four-seamer to a maximum of 100.6 mph, eventually getting Nimmo on a slider. Francisco Lindor’s go-ahead homer came moments later.

He set the tone for a game and series against Cincinnati, which at 27-52 has the worst record in the National League.

“You can’t come into these games and think that you’re just going to win just because you show up,” Nimmo said. “The biggest thing tonight was to come in with a lot of energy and still go after these guys just like anyone else.”

About halfway through his last season before reaching free agency, Nimmo is hitting .272 with a well-above-average .782 OPS. He had gone 1-for-13 over the weekend.

“He has a couple of games that were un-Nimmo-like and he gets right back on the horse,” Buck Showalter said. “It’s typical of the way he approaches everything in baseball and, really, life. He’s a pretty consistent human being. You know what you’re getting every day with him. Never a bad effort, that’s for sure.”

 

Taijuan Walker turned in his fifth consecutive quality start, a six-inning, three-run effort that increased his ERA to 2.86. The lone blemish: a three-run homer by Brandon Drury, a utilityman and fleeting fan favorite for the 2021 Mets who is making an All-Star bid with the rebuilding Reds. His career-high 17th homer temporarily tied it at 3.

Walker struck out nine, walked one and retired 10 of 12 batters after Drury’s blast. While the Mets (50-30) have been without one ace, Jacob deGrom, for the whole season and without another ace, Max Scherzer, for more than half of it, Walker has been their most effective and reliable starting pitcher.

“With our dogs out, with our big horses out, he’s definitely trying to put us on his back and show us the reason why he was an All-Star [last year],” Dominic Smith said.

Walker said: “I didn’t want to go out there and do too much, try to take over for a Max or a Jake. Those guys are in a league of their own. But I know what I’m capable of. I know what I can do when I’m healthy and feeling good.”

The Mets rocked Greene for six runs and seven hits in 5 1⁄3 innings. Long a top prospect, Greene has struggled significantly in his debut season, posting a 6.01 ERA at the midway point. His fallibility was obvious early, when the Mets put four runners on base — but did not score — in the first inning.

Greene exited with two runners on base, and both scored on Smith’s double off lefthanded reliever Reiver Sanmartin.

Smith is 7-for-21 with four doubles — including one in each of his past three games — since being called up from the minors last month, in part because he has returned to his more open batting stance, which he said he has used for most of his life.

Nimmo called him “a fantastic addition to our team.”

“Since the day he got back, he’s had a different look about his swing. He’s hitting with some malice,” Showalter said. “It’s one thing to have Dom back. It’s another thing for him to be productive. He wasn’t when he left. He is now.”