Mariners' Taijuan Walker throws one-hitter, beats Twins
A tough season forced the Seattle Mariners to become sellers at the trade deadline. Taijuan Walker then showed why the future looks promising.
Walker pitched a one-hitter for his first career complete game in 29 major-league starts, and Nelson Cruz and Jesus Montero homered to lift the Mariners over the Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Friday night.
Walker (8-7), who gave up a home run to rookie Miguel Sano, tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts to help Seattle end a four-game losing streak.
"It's coming," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "You can see what this young man is going to become. It's going to be special."
Walker had allowed 19 runs in his previous four starts, but held the Twins hitless until Sano hit a hard line drive into the first row of seats in left field with two outs in the fourth. It was the only blemish until Torii Hunter reached on an error in the seventh.
"Everything felt good," Walker said. "I felt like after the first inning, I felt pretty confident and just kept attacking them."
Walker credited a change in grip on his curveball and more use of the pitch early in the count to get ahead of hitters.
"Days like today are special," McClendon said. "This guy, he's got a great repertoire and when it's on, it's on."
Cruz had four hits, including his 27th home run of the season, and Montero added two hits and two RBIs after being recalled from Triple-A following a series of moves by Seattle prior to Friday's trade deadline.
Tommy Milone (5-3) gave up four runs and 11 hits for Minnesota, which has lost four of five. Milone has allowed at least four runs in each of his last three starts.
"Overall, the homestand hasn't been good," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You just got to kind of accept every day when you hit the pillow where you're at. No sense trying to overanalyze things."
Sano's homer was his fourth in his impressive rookie season. Playing third base for just the third time, he made a diving stop along the line with a strong throw to end the third, but he couldn't catch a line drive from Austin Jackson right back to him in the fourth.
Jackson ended up scoring on Brad Miller's sacrifice fly as part of a two-run inning. Miller had two sacrifice flies in the game.
Montero returned for his second appearance with Seattle after thriving at Triple-A and Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said the team wants to get a good look at him in the final two months of the season.
Montero came through with an RBI double and his first major league homer of the season in the sixth.
Cruz's 20th home run on the road this season was a two-run shot in the ninth.
Ketel Marte made his major-league debut hitting leadoff and playing second base for Seattle. Marte went 0 for 4 with a walk, and he scored on Cruz's homer in the ninth. The switch-hitter was hitting .314 with three home runs, 29 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in Triple-A. He appeared in the Futures Game at the All-Star game and went 2 for 2 with an RBI. Marte had played some outfield in Triple-A, but McClendon said he would play second base while Robinson Cano is out and they'd assess the rookie's role after Cano's return.
After the game, the Twins sent SS Danny Santana to Triple-A Rochester and SS Jorge Polanco to Double-A Chattanooga. Trevor Plouffe will be reinstated from paternity leave and reliever Kevin Jepsen, who the team acquired in a Friday trade with Tampa Bay, will join the team on Saturday. Molitor wasn't sure if regular shortstop duties will go to Eduardo Escobar or Eduardo Nunez.
Mariners: Cano took batting practice before the game but was held out for the third consecutive game with a strained abdominal muscle. Logan Morrison (bruised left thumb) missed his second straight game. Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters Cano and Morrison are still considered day-to-day.
Twins: Byron Buxton (left thumb sprain) took another round of batting practice before the game but general manager Terry Ryan said the team hasn't made any decision on when Buxton will travel to Florida to continue his rehab.
Mariners: LHP Mike Montgomery (4-4, 3.20 ERA) will try to get back on the winning side after going 0-2 with a 7.08 ERA in his last four starts.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (8-8, 3.48) is also trying to turn his luck. He allowed six runs in each of his last two starts.