Pitching change backfires as sinking Mets blow late lead to Giants

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Taijuan Walker cruised into the seventh inning Wednesday protecting a one-run lead, with a low pitch count and only one hit and one run charged to his name.

An error and a bloop single later, Walker’s night was over. The decision immediately backfired and dealt the Mets their latest blow.

Manager Luis Rojas called on lefty Aaron Loup to face the left-handed hitting Brandon Crawford, who drilled the first pitch he saw for a two-run double that lifted the Giants to a 3-2 win over the Mets at Citi Field.

Walker, who did not appear happy upon seeing Rojas walk out of the dugout to pull him after just 74 pitches, threw a water bottle in the dugout after Crawford’s go-ahead double. 

Chants of “Fire Rojas” then picked up steam, with the Mets (61-65) on their way to a 10th loss in their last 12 games and a season-high four games below .500. The Mets hit into five double plays and added poor baserunning to factor into their demise.

Alex Dickerson scores what proved to be the winning run against the Mets.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

The Giants (82-44) invited the Mets back into the game in the bottom of the ninth, dropping a foul pop-up and a fly ball to left-center field to put runners on first and second with one out. After Francisco Lindor popped out, to a round of boos, Brandon Nimmo drew a walk to load the bases. But Pete Alonso could not deliver, popping out to end the game.

Kris Bryant, whose solo homer off Walker was the Giants’ only offense through six innings, led off the seventh by reaching on a fielding error by third baseman Jonathan Villar. Alex Dickerson then hit a pop-up into shallow right-center field that fell between Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto, prompting Walker’s early departure.

Loup entered the night having held lefties to a .159 batting average (10-for-63, no extra-base hits), but Crawford wasted no time in pouncing on him.

The Mets had just taken their first lead of the game in the sixth inning on an RBI double by Dominic Smith that made it 2-1.

Earlier in the night, the Mets wasted a prime opportunity to take the lead in the second inning off Johnny Cueto. After Javier Baez and Dominic Smith led off with back-to-back singles, Villar hit a line drive to center field. It hung up long enough for Mike Yastrzemski to catch, at which point Baez was rounding third base. Yastrzemski easily threw to second for the double play and three pitches later, the inning was over without the Mets scoring a run.

Taijuan Walker hands the ball to manager Luis Rojas.
Taijuan Walker hands the ball to manager Luis Rojas.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Baez, who made a nice sliding grab in the top of the fourth, was involved in another double play in the bottom of the inning, though this one was by no fault of his own. With one out and Conforto at first, Baez smoked a line drive to third base. Bryant made a nice play to his right to stab it, then doubled off Conforto at first to end the inning.

Walker went 2-for-2 at the plate — his first two hits of the season while batting left-handed after previously switching from the right side due to injury concerns. That included a single in the fifth inning, part of a Mets rally to load the bases with two outs.

The Mets then got a gift from Bryant to tie the game. Pete Alonso’s grounder to third base should have ended the inning, but Bryant’s throw to first went wide, allowing Villar to score to make it 1-1.

But the Mets failed to take full advantage, as McNeil came up next against new reliever Jose Alvarado and popped out on the first pitch he saw to leave the bases loaded.

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