The New York Mets traded for Neil Walker after losing Daniel Murphy via free agency. So far, Walker is proving to be a fitting replacement.
With homers for each of his last five hits, Walker has a chance to become the first Mets second baseman to homer in three straight games in 22 years Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.
New York's run to last year's World Series was highlighted by Murphy's seven homers, including a playoff-record six-game streak. The Mets (7-6) made a qualifying offer to keep him, but Murphy opted to sign with division rival Washington for three years and $37.5 million.
In search of a replacement, New York acquired Walker from Pittsburgh for Jonathon Niese.
The move is paying off with Walker leading the Mets with six homers, and his 11 RBIs are just one back of Yoenis Cespedes' team high.
His power surge has come in 20 at-bats over the last five games, the longest such streak for the Mets since Lucas Duda hit eight in a row from July 25-Aug. 1. Walker, though, can become the first Mets second baseman to hit one out in three consecutive games since Jeff Kent in April 1994.
He connected for two solo shots while New York had a season-high six homers in Tuesday's 11-1 win at Philadelphia (6-9). The Mets hit four out in a 5-2 win in the opener of this three-game set a day earlier.
"Consistency is the most important thing," Walker said. "Squaring balls up and driving them in the seats is a pretty good sign. I'm real confident now."
The same could be said of the offense, which has scored 35 runs while hitting .280 with 17 homers during a 5-1 stretch after totaling 18 with a .187 average and two homers during the first seven games.
"We've got a lot of guys who can hit it over the fence," manager Terry Collins said. "There's no easy guy in that lineup. That's really tough on the opposition, when they know they've got to make quality pitch after quality pitch."
Bartolo Colon (1-1, 2.13) would surely like to get some help from the lineup after getting no support while giving up one run with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 1-0 loss to the Phillies on April 9. The right-hander followed that up six days later by yielding two runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 6-5 win at Cleveland.
Colon's 219 wins tie him with Pedro Martinez for second among pitchers born in the Dominican Republic, 24 behind Juan Marichal.
"He's a class act, a pro," manager Terry Collins said. "He always takes the ball and he gives you all he's got. If you give him something to work with he keeps you in the game."
Colon is 4-1 with a 2.73 ERA in his last five starts in Philadelphia. He was charged with a 4-3 loss in the most recent visit Sept. 29, allowing three runs in five innings.
The Phillies are the lowest scoring team in the majors with 2.47 runs per game, and their .211 average is the worst in the NL. They've been outscored 35-8 while losing four of their last five games.
They're turning to Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 4.30), who was roughed up in Friday's 9-1 loss to Washington. The right-hander gave up five runs in the first inning before allowing one more and leaving after three innings. He had allowed two earned runs over 11 2-3 during his first two starts.
"I just didn't command like I needed to," Hellickson told MLB's official website.
He's won his last two starts against the Mets with a 3.09 ERA, yielding two runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2 road win April 10.