Mariners Game Recap: M’s End June with Impressive 5-3 Win

Jun 30, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (44) is greeted by teammates and staff members after being relieved during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 30, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (44) is greeted by teammates and staff members after being relieved during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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3. 11. 5. 62. Final

It was the tale of two pitchers tonight between the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field.

Taijuan Walker faced off against the Mariners worst enemy, Chris Tillman, on Thursday night in Seattle. Tillman was 7-0 with a 2.96 ERA in 9 starts versus the M’s in his career. Thankfully, Tillman didn’t pitch the way an undefeated pitcher should, and Mariner fans will take that high point (or low point in this instance) to end an under-performing June.

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Walker on the other hand, looked like the ace we’ve seen flashes of through the first half of the year. A 1,2,3 1st inning with a strikeout, breezed by as walker only needed 12 pitches to take care of the Baltimore Orioles. Things did not go as smoothly for Tillman who walked Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano and then gave up an RBI single to Kyle Seager to break the seal. The RBI was Seagar’s 50th on the season- he became the 3rd Mariner with 50+ RBI before the All-Star break (Cruz and Cano are the others). By the end of the frame Tillman had thrown 30 pitches, but escaped with minimal damage.

By the end of the 3rd, Tillman had thrown 60 pitches, walked 2, and spiked 3 balls in the dirt in front of home plate. Conversely, Walker was perfect, and that is a fact. Facing 9 batters and sending them all packing. He struck out 3 (1 in each inning) and needed just a few more than half of Tillman’s 60, tossing 34 balls to catcher Chris Iannetta. In the next phase of the game things would get better for the Mariners, as Tillman would continue to struggle and Taijuan would stay in cruise control.

Walker continued to dazzle in the middle innings, although he did show that he was human, allowing two hits- one against Manny Machado that almost left the yard but ended up being an out when he was thrown out heading back to first as he rounded trying to take second base- but other than that he was still flawless. Tillman exposed his lack of control on this night even more when he hit Cruz and allowed another hit, all while throwing 21 more pitches.

In the 5th it only got worse for the O’s starter who gave up 5 straight hits in the 5th, 2 of which brought in 3 runs on over 30 pitches once more. The biggest hit was a Seth Smith 2-run homer- his first since May 31st. The score was now 4-0. Another one of the 5 hits was a Cruz Double. That double was important because it extended his hit streak to 9 versus his former club.

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The shutout didn’t last though. In the final third of the game, Hyun Soo Kim, took one yard to put the O’s on the board. Walker was pulled two batters after the home run, finishing with a line of: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. The Mariners hit right back in the bottom half of the 7th when Dae-ho Lee brought in Cruz from 3rd via the double play.

The O’s did try and mount a comeback, bringing in 2 runs in the 8th off Joaquin Benoit. Thankfully, Steve Cishek came in for a 4-out save, but that too came with some nervy moments. Mark Trumbo secured a lead-off single to give the Orioles hope, but Cishek bounced back K-ing 2 of the final 3 batters to complete the game.

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The 5-3 win to end June could be the start of a much more promising July, but it definitely is a great way to start off a 4-game series during the holiday weekend.