Former Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker returns to Citi Field mound in Phillies red

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Former Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker inside the visiting dugout during the Phillies-Mets game on June 1, 2023.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

QUEENS — Former Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker was back on the Citi Field mound for the first time since Oct. 4, 2022, but the uniform he was wearing was quite different. 

Walker started for the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon against his former club in what amounted to a 4-2 win for the Mets. The righty threw four innings, allowing three runs on two hits and giving up a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth. 

The Phillies starter had been holding a 2-1 lead for his club when Mark Cahna hit the two-run blast that put the Mets in front. 

“I was getting quick outs and I just lost it there in the fourth inning. In the third inning (too) and it carried over to the fourth,” Walker said of his start. 

Walker is 4-3 this season for the Phillies after Thursday’s loss and the pitching staff in Philly has had an up-and-down year. The Mets completed the sweep of Philadelphia with the win on Thursday and have gotten the best of the Phillies in recent meetings.

New York went 14-5 over the Phillies in 2022 and extended that with three straight wins in the first three meetings in 2023. 

“Honestly I don’t. I’m not too sure,” Walker said when asked about his former club’s dominance over his new one. “We hit the ball hard. Had a couple of plays not bounce our way and that’s just kind of the way baseball is.”

Former Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker pitches for the Phillies at Citi Field on June 1, 2023.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Walker had spent two years in Queens before leaving for the City of Brotherly Love in December. During his time in orange and blue, he went 19-16 in 58 starts with a 3.98 ERA and 278 strikeouts. 

The Phillies offered Walker a four, $72 million deal that included no option or opt-out years, which became too good to pass up for the 30-year-old. 

In his return on Thursday, he was greeted by a short tribute video by the Mets on the Citi Field video board prior to the first pitch and applause from the home crowd. Earlier in the week video posted by SNY on social media showed Walker catching up with several of his former teammates, including Francisco Lindor

Walker told the New York Post on Tuesday that he would be “a little amped up” when he took the mound on Thursday. 

“But at the end of the day, I can’t get too high,” Walker said. “I can’t get too low. I gotta win a ballgame.”

Thursday kicked off consecutive games in which the Mets would see former players take the mound against them. Chris Bassitt will start on Friday for the Toronto Blue Jays, who will play three games in Queens. 

Bassitt played for the Mets last season and was on the mound during an ugly outing in Game 3 of the NL Wild Card Series against San Diego.  

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