Taijuan Walker, Mets look for split of series with Nationals


Right-hander Taijuan Walker will try to help the visiting New York Mets earn a split of their four-game series against the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

After the Nationals blanked the Mets Friday night, the teams split a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.

Walker (6-2, 2.12 ERA), who signed to a two-year, $20 million contract in the offseason, has been a bargain, allowing two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 12 starts.

“We hit the jackpot with this guy,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s been outstanding for us.”

Last time out, Walker allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings against the Cubs. He fanned a career-high 12 batters without a walk and retired the final 12 Cubs.

“I felt it last year, with my pitching and all my weapons,” Walker said. “I knew I was going to come in and carry it over.”

Walker has faced Washington twice in his career, including on April 25 when he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Nationals in a win. He is 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA against Washington.

Washington left-hander Patrick Corbin (4-5, 5.60) is coming off his best outing of the season. On Tuesday he allowed a run on eight hits and a walk in 8 1/3 innings versus the Pirates. He struck out seven and lowered his ERA from 6.21.

“Sometimes you can make this game a lot more difficult than it already is,” Corbin said. “For me, I’m not up there fooling guys too much. They know I throw my slider, and I throw it a lot. Why not just continue to do that?”

Corbin has given up four or more earned runs in six of his 13 starts. On April 25 against the Mets, he allowed four runs on seven hits over four innings and took the loss.

He is 4-7 with a 4.44 ERA in 18 games, 17 starts against the Mets. Pete Alonso is 7-for-24 (.292) against Corbin with two home runs and Jonathan Villar is 10-for-21 (.476).

Kyle Schwarber homered twice, Jon Lester pitched six-plus innings and the Nationals defeated the Mets 6-2 Saturday night to earn a split of the doubleheader.

It was second two-homer game in a week for Schwarber, who hit a pair last Sunday against the San Francisco Giants. Schwarber has led off in eight of the Nationals’ last nine games, and he has six homers in those games. Four have come in his first at-bat.

“When Kyle hits a first-inning homer basically every day, it’s a nice start,” Trea Turner said. “We’ve just got to build off that.”

Turner also homered for the Nationals, who have won six of their past seven.

The Mets were on verge of being shut out for the third time in four games before scoring a pair of late runs on Jose Peraza’s seventh-inning homer. The struggling Mets offense will get infielder Jeff McNeil and outfielder Michael Conforto back from the injured list in the coming days.

“It’s been tough not having everybody, but everybody who’s been in the lineup and on the field has done an absolutely tremendous job,” Alonso said. “We’ve been able to win baseball games when our offense, as a whole, hasn’t really fully clicked yet.”

New York took the opener Saturday 5-1 thanks to Francisco Lindor, who ended an 0-for-11 skid with a pair of two-run homers and an RBI single.

–Field Level Media

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