This may not be news to you when I say that the Seattle Mariners have not had a lot of luck with high draft picks. I could rattle off names like Jeff Clement, Dustin Ackley, Philippe Amount, or even Josh Fields (we saw him today!) and you will cringe and probably look to close your browser. These are all top picks that got the press conference, the pomp and circumstance and they just didn't pan out in navy and northwest green.
Taijuan Walker for all intents and purposes should have been listed with the names above. The Mariners have already in essence traded Walker once before. Only Justin Upton himself and his refusal to come north kept Tai in Seattle. We have a feeling that any high draft pick is snake bitten, destined for failure, heading nowhere fast. Walker’s last two innings proved that he could be the exception to the rule.
With the Mariners clinging to a 3-1 Walker spent the sixth and seventh inning unleashing a torrent of fire and blood upon the Astros in a way that that no Mariner pitcher save Felix has done since Randy himself was adorned with the Compass Rose. Primarily relying on a fastball that touched 98 many times, and a darting split change Walker struck out the last six Astros he faced, and eleven overall on the day.
If the Mariners will be a great team, and kill to death all our sorrow and woe, Taijuan Walker will need to be a start. If Taijuan Walker is a star, you will remember those two innings. When a 23 year old kid with a scorching stuff grew up.
Things and Stuff Mostly-
- Short of a second inning that he somehow got out of only giving up one run, Walker was completely dominant. He worked his way through a pretty tight strike zone, mixed his pitches, and hit his spots. His changeup looked outstanding and his fastball touched 98. Dude was locked in.
- Kyle Seager continues to improve on his abysmal start at the plate by being the 12th member in Mariner history to join the 100 HR in a Mariner Uniform Club. The 100HRiaMUC (for short) is a list that has some pretty impressive names on it. Ken Phelps is also on that list.
- Joaquin Benoit hit the DL this afternoon leaving Scott Servais to all but give Joel Peralta the keys to the 8th inning. This was a scary inning that Peralta somehow got his way out of by striking out Colby Rasmus and Tyler White.
- Doug Fister didn’t look great and the weird strike zone didn’t do him any favors. He walked 7 and somehow only gave up three runs. Those three runs held up, but your eyebrows should probably raise a little at the offense for not being able to take advantage of the opportunities in front of them.
- Leonys Martin had a nice evening. He gunned down Altuve with a throw when he tried to get cute stretching a single into a double and he hit a no doubter to right field for his fourth bomb of the year. He had five last season. He did this all while wearing a hooded sweatshirt under his jersey in what could possibly be the coolest move to stay warm.
- Speaking of 100s, Steve Cishek secured his 100th career save. He did it a little with a bit of a tightrope act giving up two hits and a walk.
- With one out and one on in the 9th inning Carlos Gomez took off for second base. We've sung a few praises of Chris Iannetta so far this year but his throw to nail Gomez is undoubtedly his most memorable play as a Mariner thus far.
We go to bed tonight with a team not only over .500, but in first place with a +10 run differential. I know it’s early, but you can’t help but feel encouraged with what you see.
When we are in late September early October, we are going to look back on tonight. We are going to think about Taijuan Walker striking out his last six batters and stretching well over 110 pitches to complete seven strong innings. This is the catalyst to something special.