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Taijuan Walker dominates as Mets split series with Cardinals

In another universe, on another roster, news of Carlos Carrasco’s extended rehab from a torn right hamstring might have driven the Mets to misery. When the Mets acquired Carrasco from Cleveland this winter, they envisioned him serving as the No. 2 in their rotation behind Jacob deGrom. Having him miss the first two months of the season was not their ideal plan.

Fortunately the Mets acquired Taijuan Walker at the dawn of Spring Training for just this sort of problem. They wanted Walker to provide rotation depth and back-end stability. They believed he could help.

They just might not have realized quite how much.

Walker dominated throughout a 4-1 win over the Cardinals on Thursday, delivering seven near-perfect innings to help the Mets earn a four-game series split in St. Louis. The right-hander allowed just one hit — a Nolan Arenado shift-beater to lead off the second inning — and one unearned run following a Jonathan Villar error. He was otherwise untouchable, retiring a career-best 18 consecutive batters from the second through seventh innings.

The effort lowered Walker’s ERA to 2.38. He received all the support he would need in the fifth inning, when an Arenado error and four consecutive walks resulted in a two-run rally. The Mets cashed in some insurance in the eighth on yet another bases-loaded walk and a Dominic Smith RBI single.