M’s notebook: For at least one night, a glimpse of Prince Taijuan is shown

May 30, 2015, 5:44 PM | Updated: 5:48 pm
Taijuan Walker claimed his first career win at Safeco Field on Friday, throwing eight scoreless inn...
Taijuan Walker claimed his first career win at Safeco Field on Friday, throwing eight scoreless innings. (AP)
(AP)

Mariners fans have seen the legend of King Felix grow over the past 10 seasons. On Friday night they may have caught the beginning of a new epic, that of “The Prince” Taijuan Walker.

Taijuan Walker, all of 22 years old, turned in undoubtedly the most dominant performance of his young MLB career, holding the Cleveland Indians scoreless in eight innings of two-hit ball, striking out eight and issuing no free passes.

For the first time since his Mariners debut back in September 2013, Walker truly seemed like the phenom he was billed as during his days climbing the ladder in the Seattle system.

If you ask Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, though, Friday wasn’t the start of a turnaround for Walker, who still owns a 2-5 record, 6.18 ERA and 1.59 WHIP even after the gem. Believe it or not, the start McClendon was most happy with was Walker’s previous, a seemingly ho-hum outing on paper at Toronto where he gave up four runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings but started with four perfect frames.

“I think he’s taken a step forward off his last two outings, particularly the one in Toronto. I was probably, and I know this sounds crazy, I was more proud of his efforts and the way he went about his business in Toronto than tonight,” McClendon said after Friday’s game.

The poise Walker showed in that losing effort vs. the Blue Jays certainly carried over to Friday, where he kept a brisk pace on the mound, dictating to the Indians and not the other way around.

“He worked fast, he threw strikes, he worked ahead in the count, he was in and out, he had a great changeup tonight, occasional curveball, learning to pitch in with effectiveness. He did everything we asked of him to do tonight,” McClendon said.

It wasn’t just Walker’s poise that was impressive, though, but also his otherworldly stuff. He showcased a different breaking ball, a spike/knuckle curve with a higher velocity. There’s no arguing with the results.

“Felt like it was pretty sharp,” Walker said of the new pitch. “Gonna keep forward with that and keep throwing it.”

Though Walker’s been with the team for parts of each of the last three seasons, Friday was just his 18th career MLB start and only win to date at Safeco Field. It won’t stay that way for long, though.

“Tonight was one of those starts,” McClendon said, “we showed you a glimpse of the future.”

Notes

• The lineups for tonight’s game can be found at this link. Robinson Cano will make his return batting third and playing second base after missing the previous two games due to illness.

• Lefty reliever Joe Beimel has returned to the team from the restricted list after attending his son’s graduation Friday. Lucas Luetge has been placed on optional waivers as the Mariners hope to return him to Triple-A Tacoma.

• McClendon said starter James Paxton, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained tendon in the middle finger on his left hand, is shut down for two weeks. There was no medical update on the severity of the injury.

No starting pitcher.

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M’s notebook: For at least one night, a glimpse of Prince Taijuan is shown