Two games after a disastrous outing, Taijuan Walker had the game of his Mariners career, a complete-game shutout of the Angels in Anaheim that was a perfect game until a sixth-inning error allowed the first baserunner. The 8-0 victory at Angel Stadium Tuesday extended the Seattle winning streak to seven games (box) as Walker struck out a career-best 11, including a trio of K’s against Angels CF Mike Trout.
Up 4-0 in the top of the sixth with two out, RF Seth Smith stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and hit his second career grand slam, this one off reliever Mike Morin. He drove Morin’s 1-1 off-speed offering over the scoreboard and into the right field stands.
DH Nelson Cruz opened the scoring in the first, hitting his 36th home run of the season to score LF Norichika Aoki.
In the second, SS Ketel Marte hit a sacrifice fly to score CF Leonys Martin, before Aoki added a solo home run, his third of the season and second on the road trip.
Cruz finished 3-for-3 with a walk. Smith’s homer snapped an 0-for-11 streak.
Walker (6-10) sat down 17 batters in row with great fastball command and a dazzling curve and change-up. With two out the sixth, however, Marte fielded a routine grounder behind second and inexplicably one-hopped the throw to 1B Daniel Vogelbach, making the first start of his major-league career. He couldn’t pick the throw, allowing 2B Kaleb Cowart aboard on an error.
In the seventh, Kole Calhoun ended the no-hitter with a clean single to right. Walker gave up two more hits but was allowed to finish the first complete-game shutout of his career. He threw 113 pitches.
The New York Yankees beat the LA Dodgers 3-0 Tuesday, while the Detroit Tigers lost to the Minnesota Twins. Both remain ahead of the Mariners, two games back of the American League wild card slots occupied by Baltimore and Toronto. Seattle is behind New York and Detroit, 2.5 games back.
“I was getting nervous, My stomach started to tighten up a bit. My legs were getting heavy. it was the longest six innings of my life.” – Walker, on the game leading up to Marte’s error
“We saw something special from Taijuan Walker, and we really need it the rest of the way.” – Mariners manager Scott Servais
The Mariners have won 9 of their last 12 games . . . Seattle’s last streak of seven consecutive wins was in 2013, when they won eight from July 12-23 . . . Walker is the fifth Mariner to record 20 wins or more through his age-23 season . . . The home runs from Cruz, Aoki and Smith bring the season total to 202, fifth-best in club history, after 1997 (264), 1996 (245), 1999 (244) and 1998 (234), all in the Kingdome.
The Mariners go for the sweep against the Angels and a 6-0 road trip at 7:05 p.m., Wednsday when Hisashi Iwakuma (15-11, 3.96) faces off against Tyler Skaggs (3-3, 4.13).