After double-digit blankings (10-0 and 13-0 at Houston) twice in one series for the first time in franchise history, the Mariners rebounded Monday night with a 5-1 victory over San Francisco in front of 42,099 at AT&T Park (box score). Supported by a 12-hit bonanza from the usually feeble offense, Taijuan Walker stymied the Giants for seven innings as the Mariners improved to 29-35, but failed to gain ground on the Astros, who knocked off Colorado 6-3.
At 1-1, Brad Miller opened the fifth with a single to left and Mike Zunino, batting .159, followed with another single to left. Logan Morrison’s base hit to right scored Miller, and Austin Jackson’s fielder’s choice to second plated Zunino for a 3-1 Seattle lead. The Giants never mounted any threat thereafter against Walker, who notched his fourth win against six losses.
Kyle Seager’s 11th home run, on a fat fastball in the eighth inning, traveled an estimated 421 feet and provided the Mariners with a 4-1 lead. Seager has 36 RBIs. Seager, Jackson and Logan Morrison all delivered multi-hit games, Jackson finishing with two RBIs and Morrison going 3-for-5 with an RBI, stolen base and a run scored from the leadoff spot. Morrison has four three-hit games this season.
Robinson Cano hit the ball hard four times, went 2-for-5 and is batting .240. A year ago on June 15, Cano was hitting .331. With his single in the fifth, Zunino snapped an 0-for-11 slide and is hitting .161. James Jones, recalled Monday as a roster replacement for the demoted Danny Farquhar, struck out in his only at-bat in the ninth inning.
Walker, 2-1, 1.64 in his previous three starts, produced his fourth consecutive quality outing, allowing one earned run on seven hits in seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Walker, who threw 98 pitches, 67 for strikes, lowered his ERA from 5.40 to 5.00. He retired 11 consecutive during one stretch and held the Giants to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. In his previous start, Walker held Cleveland to 1-for-10 with RISP.
With his 1-2-3 eighth inning, Mark Lowe lowered his ERA to 0.92.
“That was about as clean a game as we have played in some time, and it was nice to see. Taijuan (Walker) did a nice job. He’s well on his way. He’s certainly not a finished product, but I like what I see. It’s all about command of the fastball. He had that tonight and it allowed him to do other things. He pounded the ball downstairs and made quality pitches. There’s a little bit of life in this team. How about that!” — Lloyd McClendon, Mariners manager
The Mariners, 4-3 on the road trip and 2-5 in interleague play, handed the defending World Series champions their ninth consecutive defeat at AT&T Park . . . Hisashi Iwakuma, who has yet to pitch this season, threw a simulated game and is expected to make a start for Everett Saturday . . . James Paxton (strained finger) has been cleared to start throwing next week . . . Never before last weekend, when the Astros beat them 10-0 and 13-0, had the Mariners lost twice by double-figure shutout margins in the same series. The closest was Sept. 15-16, 1983, when the Chicago White Sox blanked the Mariners 12-0 and 7-0 in the Kingdome.
The Mariners play the second of two against the Giants at AT&T Park Tuesday (12:45 p.m., PT). LHP J.A. Happ (3-2, 2.73), who lasted only 2.1 innings in his last start, will face former University of Washington star and two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum (6-3, 3.33). Lincecum has made only one start against the Mariners, losing 7-4 to Iwakuma June 16, 2012 at Safeco Field.
That was a text book game. Walker had the Giants reeling and they couldn’t figure him out. Then the M’s were able to relax and just score runs. Interleague has come at the right time for the club. I imagine the Giants weren’t familiar at all with Walker. Too bad Elias has already pitched and Paxton isn’t available if that’s the case.
Walker and Morrison are rounding into form. I thought in the spring a chunk of the season was bet on the two of them. If they stay healthy….but neither has played a 162 game season without injury. With Cano hitting the ball better you can begin to see how he might get his average back to, say, .290. BUT, it’s quite likely Cruz will fall to at least .290, if not farther, and that is not a good trade for the M’s as Cruz has been the power hitter. They are .87 percentage points out of the wild card right now. Not impossible. But there are multiple teams in front of them and that, in the end, is what will play the devil.