The most important takeaway from Taijuan Walker’s start in a 6-2 win over the Reds on Wednesday was simple: At least it wasn’t as bad as last time.
Rebounding from his three-out, eight-run mess against Atlanta last week, Walker held Cincinnati to two runs in six innings as the Mets won their sixth game in a row. He seemed not to be thrilled with his performance, however, in part because his splitter still was not sharp.
“I just kind of got away from it a little bit. I was working on the slider so much that I kind of lost focus on my splitter, and my splitter is my best pitch,” he said. “This next week, I got an extra day (thanks to the Mets’ day off Thursday), so I’m really going to hammer it and try to get it back, because it is my best pitch.”
Walker scattered five hits and three walks (and one hit batter). He also struck out five.
The biggest test came in the top of the fifth, when Joey Votto (2-for-3) leaned into a pitch to load the bases with two outs. Donovan Solano, the potential tying run and arguably the most productive hitter in the Cincinnati lineup, grounded out on the first pitch.
“(Votto) had two hits off me, so you’d think he would want to swing,” Walker said. “But it is what it is. We got out of it and won the game, so.”
Manager Buck Showalter said of Walker: “I could tell early on, he had a little juice in his eyes. He was carrying a pretty good fastball early on . . . He made a lot of pitches when it looked like it might have potential to get away from him. It worked out good.”
Boys at the yard
Most Mets picked walk-up songs sung by females in honor of Women’s Day at Citi Field. Among the highlights: Jeff McNeil’s “What Dreams Are Made Of” by Hilary Duff and James McCann’s “Wannabe” by Spice Girls.
And then there was Daniel Vogelbach, who chose “Milkshake” by Kelis. He made that decision at the, let’s say, encouragement of teammates.
“All the boys wanted me to do it,” Vogelbach said. “The boys want, the boys get. I did it for them.”
With two hits and three RBIs Wednesday, might he stick with it?
“Nah, just a one-day thing,” he said.
A day game Wednesday followed by a scheduled off day Thursday provided the Mets with a bona fide luxury: a nearly 48-hour stretch — in the middle of a homestand — during which they don’t need to be at the ballpark.
“What do you get from it physically? Not a lot,” Showalter said. “I think mentally and emotionally, it is (noteworthy). Kind of step back, really get away from the constant baseball clock . . . Just to be able to take a rest for a period of time. Eat together with the people they want to eat together with. We pick their friends for eight months. You can actually go do something that you want to do.
“You know what a lot of people do when they get time like this? Nothing. They just go, ‘I’m going to wake up, not have anything planned, no structure.’ I might want to sit there and watch ‘The Honeymooners’ reruns.”