After he opened the season on a remarkable tear, culminating with nine home runs in April, June wasn’t as nice to Neil Walker. But luckily for him, the calendar turned Friday, and with that, he already has matched his home run total from the month before.
Walker drove a 94-mph fastball off the rightfield foul pole in the first inning to drive in the first two runs of the Mets’ 4-3 victory over the National League-leading Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.
“I’ve had a lot of balls go down that line and hook foul this year, so fortunately enough, I hit it good enough to keep it fair,” Walker said. “I was kind of willing it to stay inside the pole, and it did.”
The Mets jumped out early on reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta. Brandon Nimmo worked a walk before running on the 3-and-2 pitch that resulted in Walker’s 15th home run of the season and 10th as a lefthanded hitter.
“It’s always good — especially against good pitchers — to score some runs early,’’ Walker said, “and to be able to do that in the first inning was big.”
After 80 games, Walker already is one shy of tying his second-most homers in a season. In order to set a career milestone, he’ll need to best his 23-homer season with Pittsburgh in 2013.
For Walker personally, it snapped a streak of 14 games without a homer — his longest of the season — with his last one coming June 16.
“I certainly wasn’t trying to do that,” Walker said. “Just trying to put a good swing on the ball and was able to lift it out.”