Mariners Insider

Taijuan Walker goes 5, strikes out 8, gives up 2 hits, no runs, calls it a ‘bad day’

Post by Todd Dybas / The News Tribune on July 1, 2013 at 10:44 pm with 3 Comments »
July 2, 2013 12:35 am

Rainiers wunderkind Taijuan Walker took the same direct route to open his second start as he did his first.

Three fastballs. Three strikes. One out. Eat it.

Walker (2-0) went five innings and struck out eight Monday night in Tacoma’s 4-1 win over the oft-late-swinging Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

He has thrown 95 innings this season between Jackson and Tacoma. He threw 126 2/3 last season. Walker’s not counting, though the Mariners’ brass likely is.

“I’m just going to keep pitching until they stop me,” Walker said.

A self-imposed test came in the third for Walker during his 93-pitch outing. He walked lead-off hitter Tim Wheeler on four pitches. Walker paid him little attention, which provided Wheeler a gracious path when stealing second.

After walking Hernan Iribarren two batters later, Walker, 20, tussled with the Sky Sox’s No.3 hitter, Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon pushed the count full before striking out on a 90-mph cutter.

Both Sky Sox hits against Walker came off the bat of left-hander Ben Paulsen. The first a double to left-center, the hardest hit ball of the night against Walker, and the second a single through the right side.

Beyond that, Walker’s infield spent much of the hot evening at ease. With his fastball zipping along at 95 mph, Walker controlled the Sky Sox.

Walker’s cutter, changeup and curveball provided just enough scale-tipping. Those off-speed pitches existed more than dominated the game. They allowed Walker to be fastball heavy without punishment for the largely one-sided approach.

“Today was kind of a bad day for me,” Walker said. “Got away with it.”

He closed his outing with his eighth strikeout. After 11 innings over two Tacoma outings, Walker’s ERA is 0.00. He’s struck out 12, allowed five hits and walked four.

“When you look at the whole package: his body, his mind and his arm, you’re looking at a guy there that has a very high potential,” Tacoma manager John Stearns said.

It wasn’t just a strong night for Walker. Stefen Romero tilted the spotlight toward himself with an enviable all-around game.

Romero picked up hits to right, center and left. His fourth-inning double pushed home Carlos Triunfel for the Rainiers’ second run. Romero scored the Rainiers’ first run in the third.

His straight-line throw in the top of the eighth took a bounce before cutting down the tying run at the plate. Catcher Brandon Bantz corralled the throw and swung a tag into the charging Charlie Culberson. Culberson was irritated with the call. Bantz and the Rainiers trotted off with their narrow lead intact.

Bantz’s bouncer through a drawn-in infield drove in two runs in the eighth.

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. bbnate420 says:

    Walker is looking like he may force them to start him in Seattle from day one in 2014. I wouldn’t bring him up this year except for maybe a start in September if he still has some innings left. Ryan or Todd, do you think they let him go approx. 150 innings this year?

  2. kurtisballard says:

    They will probably add about 30 innings to his total count this year on top of the 126 he pitched last year. So yeah, somewhere between 150 and 160. I doubt he will have much left by September, assuming he gets 10 or so starts from now until then in Tacoma.

    I would not be surprised at all to see him in the Mariners rotation right out of spring next year, though. He can certainly bring back memories of Michael Pineda circa 2010, in the sense that his fastball is enough to make ANY hitter look foolish. I don’t know if his control is quite where Pineda had it, but the kid is exciting.

  3. bbnate420 says:

    Thanks for the input, kurtis.

    This also made me think about the Justin Upton trade. I’m glad he nixed it right now. Upton has a OPS of .802. And that’s in Atl with their lineup. They’re still really young, but I’d rather have Franklin, Pryor, and Walker. Add Furbush into that too. I don’t necessarily care too much about him, but he’s been a pretty good reliever for us the last couple of years. He’s not a garbage throw in. Even though he seems to be pretty good at drafting, Z needs to go IMO. 5 years is enough. He still looks good next to that Mega-Tard Bavasi, but who wouldn’t? He can run our scouting department if he wants. The M’s need to hire a real GM and have dumb and dumber stay out of the way. They can oversee the commercials and park promotions. Leave the baseball to people who know what the ef they’re doing. The last time we had that was with Gillick. Is it a coincidence that that is the last time they were relevant?

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