Each coming back from injuries, Taijuan Walker’s return Thursday went a lot better than Wade Miley’s return Wednesday. Walker allowed one run over 6.1 innings to lead the Mariners to a 5-3 win over Baltimore at Safeco Field, snapping the Orioles’ seven-game winning streak (box).
With a runner on first base and the tying run at the plate in the ninth, Seattle closer Steve Cishek delivered a full-count pitch to the inside of the plate. Pedro Alvarez swung and missed badly, finishing off the win and another shaky save for Cishek, who allowed two hits but wriggled out of it.
Walker showed neither rust nor discomfort in his first game back from a sore foot. He made his first start since June 19, having skipped his last turn. Walker retired the first 11 batters before Baltimore star Manny Machado broke up the no-hitter with a two-out single in the fourth. His shutout bid ended on a Hyun Soo Kim homer in the seventh.
Reliever Edwin Diaz was just as dominant after taking over in the seventh, striking out the only two batters he faced. Cishek earned a four-out save, though he had to work hard. He gave up an RBI single to Machado in the eighth and a lead-off single to ex-Mariner Mark Trumbo in the ninth, but Cishek earned his 19th save. OFs Leonys Martin and Seth Smith made nice running catches to help.
LF Smith delivered the big hit with a two-run homer in the fifth, but 1B Dae-Ho Lee was just as important. Not once, but twice, the Orioles chose to walk 3B Kyle Seager to get to Lee. The big first baseman delivered RBIs on both occasions – a bases-loaded single in the fifth and a run-scoring ground-out in the seventh. RF Nelson Cruz added a pair of doubles.
“I felt it, but I guess sometimes you’ve got to pitch through it. Knowing nothing’s structurally wrong with it, you’ve still got to go out and pitch.” – Walker, on the lingering foot injury
The Mariners brought up from AAA Tacoma C Mike Zunino and reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, which probably didn’t inspire a whole lot of optimism for longtime fans. Zunino gets a second chance at living up to the hype after he was selected with the third pick in the 2011 draft. He replaces backup C Steve Clevenger, who needs surgery to repair a broken hand. Wilhelmsen replaces reliever Donn Roach, sent to Tacoma. Neither Zunino nor Wilhelmsen got into Thursday’s game . . . Kim’s home run was the 56th the Orioles hit in June, setting an MLB record for most homers by a team in that month . . . Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, forever linked with the Erik Bedard trade disaster in this town, had his first career loss to the Mariners. He was 7-0 with a 2.96 ERA against Seattle before Thursday’s loss, in which saw Tillman allowed four runs off six hits over 4.2 innings.
LHP Wade LeBlanc brings a scoreless streak of 23.2 innings into Friday’s 7 p.m. second game against the Orioles. LeBlanc was brought in to make a spot start in the absence of an injured Walker, and tossed six scoreless innings in his debut. Baltimore will counter with RHP Kevin Gausman (1-5, 3.93 ERA).