Taijuan Walker weathers the storm, gives Mariners a chance in 3-2 loss to Oakland A’s

Apr 8, 2016, 11:33 PM | Updated: 11:38 pm
Taijuan Walker worked out of a first-inning jam and finished with six innings of two-run ball in the Mariners' loss to Oakland on Friday. (AP)

Taijuan Walker was given the big stage with a record crowd on hand to watch him start the Mariners’ home opener Friday night.

His performance in Seattle’s 3-2 loss to Oakland wasn’t exactly the breakout outing some were maybe hoping for, but it was another example that Walker is trending the right way in his quest to become the Mariners’ next ace.

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Walker didn’t factor into the decision but he gave the M’s a chance to win with his six innings on the mound – even with the defense behind him making things hairy early in the game. He finished with four strikeouts, allowing two runs – one on a no-doubt solo homer by A’s outfielder Josh Reddick – on seven hits and no walks.

“I thought he threw the ball pretty well,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We didn’t help defensively. … For the most part I was really happy with his outing. I thought he was aggressive. He got deep in counts but he finished; he won a lot of those battles. It was a good outing, a good first outing.”

The biggest takeway from Walker’s start was how he weathered the storm in the first after Billy Burns singled and stole second, then Reddick hit a broken-bat jam shot with one out that found the hole in the Seattle infield’s shift. Walker responded by inducing a ground ball for a double play, something he would do again in the third inning after another Burns single.

“I made some pitches, executed some pitches (in the first inning),” Walker said. “I felt like that’s where I’ve kind of matured this year. Kind of just control my emotions and making good pitches to get out of big jams like that. … I felt like I was pretty calm for most of the game. I got into some jams, but I was able to work out of them, get some big double plays.”

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