Taijuan Walker pitched a gem, allowing one unearned run over seven innings while striking out five with one walk as the Mariners (8-11) snapped a two-game losing streak and defeated the Rangers 3-1 Monday night at Globe Life Park (box score). In the first game of a three-game series on a 10-game road trip, Walker scattered six hits, notched his first victory of the season and lowered his ERA from 10.66 to 6.86.
The Mariners forced Texas starter Yovani Gallardo to throw 35 pitches in the first inning and took advantage of his lack of command, scoring two runs. Nelson Cruz delivered an RBI single, scoring Justin Ruggiano. A second run came in on a fielder’s choice and an error.
Fernando Rodney had another adventuresome ninth inning, putting two aboard before retiring No. 9 hitter Robinson Chirinos for the final out and his fifth save. Rodney is 5-for-6 in save chances. After Walker’s superlative outing, Mariners starters have a 2.93 ERA and 59 strikeouts in the last 10 games. Over the past six, Seattle starters have a 1.38 ERA.
The Mariners won despite collecting only five hits, all singles. After going 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position Sunday, the Mariners went 2-for-7 Monday. Robinson Cano, who had an 11-game hitting streak snapped two days ago, went 0-for-4, his second consecutive game without a hit. He’s batting .273, Willie Bloomquist got a start at first base in place of Logan Morrison and went 0-for-3. Kyle Seager, a career .353 hitter at Globe Life Park, went 1-for-4.
“I thought his last start was real good and I thought he would build on that, and he did. That’s the key to us getting on a roll, getting real good pitching. He commanded the zone with his fastball and breaking stuff. I would have like to have seen a few more change-ups, but he did pretty good.” — Manager Lloyd McClendon on Walker.
“I stuck with the game plan and established the fast ball early. I think I had my best fastball (of the season) today,” — Walker, who has 13 strikeouts in his past two outings.
The start of the game was delayed an hour due to a thunderstorm over the Arlington, TX., area . . . Ruggiano, an Austin native, batted leadoff Monday, the fifth Mariner to hit in the No. 1 slot, and drew a pair of walks and scored twice . . . Eighteen of Seattle’s 19 games have been decided by three or fewer runs.
J.A. Happ (1-1, 2.61), who has a quality start in all three of his outings, will oppose LHP Ross Detwiler (0-2, 10.95) Tuesday (5:05 p.m., PT). After Felix Hernandez (3-0, 1.61) pitches Wednesday, the Mariners will move to Houston for a four-game series starting Thursday.