Even though Shakespeare wrote, “Uneasy is the head that wears the crown,” he obviously didn’t mean Neil Walker in tonight’s game.
After struggling all season, the Mets second baseman finally broke out, driving in the first and walk-off runs in the Mets, 4-3, much needed win over the Giants and he proudly displaying the team’s victory crown after the game.
“Obviously yesterday was a tough day,” Walker said. “But we have so many good quality players here, we are able to turn the page quickly.”
Maybe not so fast, because the Mets are still a game under .500, but after they had to deal with the Matt Harvey situation yesterday and seemingly instituting a blue laws policy the last two Sundays, they needed something.
And Walker to the rescue.
There has been plenty of blame to go around for the Mets slow start. Some like Harvey and Jose Reyes, had the spotlight on them the first month. But a spotlight only shines in one direction and Neil Walker was saved from some early scrutiny.
Unlike last season, where he opened the first month of the year with a .307 average with nine homers and 13 RBI, this year has been a struggle for the Mets second baseman, going .195 with two homers and nine RBI. It could have been the weather. It could have been the back surgery he had last Sep. 7th.
Easy excuses for any player and no one would have questioned Walker if he used it as a crutch. But this is Neil Walker we are talking about and he would do no such thing.
“I take full responsibility for my numbers,” Walker said. “It hasn’t been the greatest start and I understand that but I know the worst thing you can do is start pressing and concentrating on only getting hits.”
And Walker never took his plate struggles to the field, playing a nice second base and waiting for this slump to end. Tonight, was a good first step with his average going up to .216 and his RBI total at 14.
Even if it was the back, which he says is 100 percent, Walker is the least of the Mets concerns, since you figured he would eventually start hitting. But these days Walker’s role is more important, since he is one of the clubhouse leaders, who helps keep this ship sailing even in these tough times.
“Leadership from the veteran guys is the key,” Walker said. “A lot of the young guys will look for signs and body language from the veterans when injuries happen or thing happen like with (Matt Harvey). They know we need to stay together and keep grinding.”
Like tonight’s game where Walker was the hero and his teammates chipped away at the Giants, winning it in the end. And don’t look now, but the Mets are 7-3 in their last 10 games and if they win one of the next two games, they will have four series wins in a row, which is not that bad.
And things will get better for Walker and his teammates, as they expect Lucas Duda back next week and Yoenis Cespedes in two. Even Steven Matz will be taking a rehab stint very soon, so the Mets will be somewhat whole again, even with Noah Syndergaard on the shelf.
So, you can see why Walker a happy king tonight. He may even get happier, because if the New York Rangers win their next couple of games and his beloved Pittsburgh Penguins wins on Wednesday, then he will be able to watch his team in New York for the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals.
He may even watch it with Matt Harvey, who seems to need a friend in the clubhouse these days.
There’s that leadership again.