Taijuan Walker threw a 3-hit, complete game shutout as Mariners won 8-0 in Anaheim. on Tuesday, setting up the biggest homestand of the season.
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The Mariners got the best start of Taijuan Walker’s career and won their seventh straight game in Anaheim Tuesday night by a score of 8-0. The M’s offense scored eight runs for the second consecutive night to support Taijuan, who had garnered the worst run support in the AL coming into the game. Walker attributes his shutout to a tweak in his mechanics, a change proposed by Mel Stottlemyre early in the season. Taijuan finally agreed to a higher leg-kick and more hip-turn in order to keep from flying open, after failing to make it out of the first inning a few starts ago.
In his first start after the change, Taijuan opened the game by throwing seven consecutive balls and walking two batters in the first inning against Texas. Walker nearly gave up on the tweak right away when it happened, but admits it was a good thing he didn’t. He settled down after the first inning in Seattle, leading the team to a 6-3 win, and then followed that up with his most impressive start of his career.
The change in his mechanics has certainly helped Taijuan with his command, but I believe his recent success is just as much about his change in attitude and limiting the use of his cutter/slider. Despite facing largely right handed lineups in his past two starts, I haven’t seen his cutter more than once or twice. Along with that, Taijuan admits that he has been more focused and coaches have indicated that he has taken criticism of a lack of “killer instinct” to heart.
Mariners offense averaging over seven runs per game in September.
While the starting pitching had to step up in order to make one last playoff run, the offense that has carried this team through much of the season is red hot. The Mariners are averaging over seven runs per game and everyone is contributing. They have shown the ability to move runners over and manufacture runs as of late. However, the strength of this team has always been its power. Seth Smith‘s grand slam in the sixth inning Tuesday night added to HR’s by Nelson Cruz and even Nori Aoki to give the M’s an 8-0 lead. Aoki has been red hot since being moved to a platoon role, with Guillermo Heredia starting against lefties.
Despite the recent success of Smith, Aoki, Marte, Martin, and Zunino, the middle of the order continues to carry the team. It might surprise you to learn that even though Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano are having their best seasons offensively, Nelson Cruz leads the team with an OPS of .904 and went 3-3 Tuesday with a two-run HR in the first.
The Mariners concluded their series last night in Anaheim against the Angels with Hisashi Iwakuma‘s 16th win of the year, a tidy 2-1 win, their eighth in a row.
The M’s are just 2 games back of Toronto for the 2nd wild card spot, and just 1/2 game behind Detroit and New York. They head back home for a three-game series against the Astros and another against the Blue Jays, which could determine the postseason fate of Seattle.
By: Collin Ferguson at EmeraldCitySwagger.com