Based on the inconsistent performances from early in the season, the idea of Taijuan Walker reaching double-figure victories in 2015 seemed like an impossibility.
CHICAGO — Based on the inconsistent performances from early in the season, the idea of Taijuan Walker reaching double-figure victories in 2015 seemed like an impossibility.
After a May 25 loss at Toronto, Walker was 1-5 in nine starts with a 7.33 earned-run average. Many Mariners fans were no longer grumbling for a return to Class AAA Tacoma, but demanding it.
Instead, Seattle stuck with Walker through up-and-down progression. That patience has been rewarded with a solid first full season in the big leagues. On Friday night, Walker picked up his 10th win of the season in the Mariners’ 2-0 victory over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
The young right-hander tossed 62/3 shutout innings while giving up three hits with six strikeouts and a walk. It was a strong bounce back performance considering he was facing the White Sox in consecutive starts. Walker started against Chicago last Sunday at Safeco Field. He picked up the win despite giving up five runs on seven hits in 52/3 innings, nearly squandering a six-run lead.
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Five days later, there would be no such struggles.
“I felt good,” he said. “I used a lot of fastballs today, working in and out. We were throwing in a lot today. It seemed like they were cheating a lot, so we kept throwing more and more in.”
It was a start that showed his growth as a pitcher.
“He pretty much dominated,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.
That domination came to an end prematurely when a cramp in his right hip flexor left him sitting on the mound in pain. Walker delivered a 3-1 pitch to Adam LaRoche and then fell to the ground.
McClendon and trainer Rob Nodine went out to check on him and he was removed the game.
“It just cramped up and gave out on me and I fell,” Walker said. “I came back in here and everything was fine.”
Reliever Carson Smith walked LaRoche and then took a line drive off his hip for a single for Alexei Ramirez to load the bases. Smith then induced pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck to hit into a double play.
Smith worked a scoreless eighth inning, while Tom Wilhelmsen worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.
Kyle Seager broke a 0-0 tie, leading off the sixth inning with a solo shot to deep right field for his 19th homer of the year. Later in the inning, Franklin Gutierrez also homered.