Second baseman hits NY's 14th homer at Citizens Bank Park this season
By Evan Webeck
PHILADELPHIA -- Maybe it was the 90-degree gametime temperature. Or maybe the cozy dimensions of Citizens Bank Park. Do the green bushes and ivy in center field make a particularly good batter's eye? Whatever it is, there's something the Mets like about hitting in the City of Brotherly Love.
Neil Walker's sixth-inning homer in the Mets' 5-3 win over the Phillies on Friday was their 14th home run in four games this season at Citizens Bank Park. Only at Citi Field, where they have played 42 more games, have the Mets left the yard more times this season.
Walker joined Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda and David Wright as Mets to have homered at Citizens Bank Park this season. Even Juan Lagares, with his two homers on the season entering the game, joined in to kick off the Mets' scoring Friday. He homered and stole a base -- just the second time in his career he has done both in a game.
Lagares created a run with one swing in the third, but he was also instrumental in the Mets' one manufactured run of the night. He stole second after a walk to lead off the seventh, advanced to third on Alejandro De Aza's flyout to right field and then scored on a Jose Reyes grounder.
"You don't necessarily have to hit home runs," manager Terry Collins said.
But his squad did as it has done -- hit home runs. And it's hit them in bunches. In all four of the Mets' games at Citizens Bank Park this season, they have hit at least two homers.
Cespedes, Wright and Duda all have multiple homers in Philly this season, but Walker is the only Met with four. He hit two of the Mets' six homers in a win on April 19 in Philadelphia. So it should come as no surprise to learn that among parks in which he has played at least 20 games, Walker has a higher OPS in only one -- Atlanta's Turner Field.
"It tends to be a pretty good ballpark in the middle of summer with the temperature and humidity," Walker said. "As a guy who hits a lot of flyballs, I've been pretty fortunate with the results I've had here this year."
The Mets are rapidly approaching last season's 19 home runs they hit at Citizens Bank Park -- five away with five left to play -- which already was nine more than they hit at any other road ballpark in 2015.
Walker's three-run shot on Friday was his 16th this season, matching his total from last season with Pittsburgh. To start the second half with a blast could be key for Walker in potentially besting his career high of 23 two seasons ago.
"This is one of the hardest games of the year, the first game after the All-Star break," Walker said. "You've got basically four days of not much of anything. If you can get a big hit like a home run, it kind of eases the tension a little."
Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.