Taijuan Walker's struggles continued in a 6-3 loss on Thursday, as the Mets dropped the rubber game to lose three out of five in their series with the Braves.
The Mets had a chance to burry the Braves in the NL East, but instead, they let Atlanta hang around. The Amazins' are 22-23 in their last 45 games, and at 54-47, they sit four games up on the Phillies and Braves with the trade deadline approaching tomorrow.
The struggling Walker initially got off to a great start, tossing three hitless innings with four strikeouts. However, it all fell apart for him in the fourth and fifth inning.
Walker surrendered a total of five earned runs on six hits and two homers in his final two innings.
And newest Met killer Austin Riley was responsible for three of these runs, as he launched a two run homer, and drove in another run on an RBI single. Riley finished the series with five hits, four homers and 10 RBIs.
"For me, it's two things. One, the long ball has been killing me and two, it's just the pitch selection," said Walker after the game. "It's just not trusting myself and throwing a pitch without conviction."
Walker, who made his first All-Star team this season, has now allowed 15 runs in his last 9.1 innings. His outing ended in disappointing fashion once again, and his ERA has ballooned from 2.50 to 3.71.
The right-hander has thrown 99.1 innings this year, which is his highest total since 2017. He also admitted that he was feeling fatigue in his first start after the break, but is better now and that his troubles all fall on pitch selection.
"I think the stuff and command were there, but the pitch selection got him," said manager Luis Rojas. "This is similar to the Taijuan we’ve seen. The fastball carry was there, which was my only concern in his recent outings.”
In the bottom of the fifth, the Mets drew closer, as Pete Alonso launched his 23rd homer of the season into the third deck in left field at an astounding 453-feet. This two-run shot cut the Mets' deficit to 5-3 and ended the day for Braves starter Drew Smyly.
Mets reliever Jeurys Familia, who has been on a roll lately, allowed a solo homer to Dansby Swanson in the top of the eighth, which saw the Braves extend their lead to 6-3.
Right-hander Akeem Bostick made his major league debut in the ninth, and worked around a two out walk to toss a scoreless frame.
The Mets struck first in this game, as Dom Smith continued his tear against lefties this season (.330 batting average) with an RBI single in the bottom of the third.