Walker one-hits Twins to halt Mariners' skid
MINNEAPOLIS -- Taijuan Walker was dominant Friday, helping the Mariners snap a four-game losing streak and giving up just one run on one hit in Friday's 6-1 victory over the Twins. Walker struck out 11 in the first nine-inning complete game of his career, and was aided by two RBIs apiece from Brad Miller, Jesus Montero and Nelson Cruz.
"You can see what this young man is going to become and it's going to be special," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said after the 22-year-old right-hander improved to 8-7 with a 4.73 ERA.
Prior to the game, the Mariners recalled Montero, who finished 2-for-4 a home run and an RBI double in the team's two-run fourth inning. Ketel Marte, the team's No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com, was called up Friday, too, and made his Major League debut. He was hitless in four at-bats but scored a run in the victory.
Walker outpitched Twins starter Tommy Milone, who gave up four runs and career-worst 11 hits in six-plus innings. Rookie Miguel Sano provided the only offense for the Twins, sending his fourth home run of the season into the left-center-field seats. With the loss, the Twins have now lost seven of their last 10 games.
"Overall, the homestand hasn't been good," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Starting pitching has probably not been as good and hasn't been getting as deep, the bullpen has been at times OK, but other times not so good. And offensively we've had some nights where we swing the bats well and then nights like tonight where we struggle a little bit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Montero makes his mark: Montero has been raking at Triple-A Tacoma and awaiting his chance for much of the season, and the 25-year-old delivered big in his first game after being recalled by the Mariners. Montero ripped an RBI double down the third-base line in the fourth and then drove his solo homer in the sixth off Milone. He went 2-for-4 and is now hitting .526 (10-for-19) with two homers and six RBIs in his career against Milone.
"I saw real good bat speed, he was very disciplined at the plate and short to the ball," McClendon said. " I really liked what I saw today."
Sano has up and down night: Rookie Sano got the Twins on the board with his fourth homer of the year, taking a 1-0 pitch to left-center field. Sano, not known for his defense, also made a diving grab to rob Franklin Gutierrez of a hit. But he had a tough defensive inning in the fourth, which included letting Montero's RBI double go under his glove.
"He had one outstanding play and then there was the line drive that was hooking that was a tough catch," Molitor said. "The next play was a little peculiar in that it was foul first and then got a little reverse spin to get over the corner of the base. When you charge a topspin ball and don't get the short hop it's tough to come up with it cleanly."
Taijuan terrific: With the Mariners needing a strong start from their embattled rotation, Walker came through with a 101-pitch gem. Other than Sano's fourth-inning blast, his only baserunners were Joe Mauer on a first-inning walk and Torii Hunter on a seventh-inning error by Miller on a grounder to short. Walker's 11 strikeouts equaled his career high. More >
"It felt pretty good," Walker said. "I think the big thing was throwing the curveball. I threw it early for strikes, kept them off balance and me and [catcher Mike Zunino] were on the same page the whole time."
Boyer holds it down: Twins reliever Blaine Boyer has seen his role change drastically this season, pitching his way into and out of a setup role. Boyer's role could change even more when recently acquired Kevin Jepsen joins the team Saturday, but he pitched a scoreless seventh, getting out of a no-out, two-on jam and recording multiple strikeouts in an outing for the first time since April 17.
"Our bullpen was great tonight." -- McClendon, after his overworked relievers got the night off with Walker's complete game
"It was a bad game today, but tomorrow is a new day and everybody is positive. The pitcher was very good today. But the only thing we can do is to continue to play hard." -- Sano, on getting the lone hit against Walker
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Twins were one-hit for the 29th time in club history, and for the first time since May 24, 2013, against the Tigers. The last time they were held to one hit by the Mariners came on May 5, 2012.
Mariners: Rookie southpaw Mike Montgomery (4-4, 3.20) faces the Twins for the first time in Saturday's 4:10 p.m. PT game at Target Field. Montgomery is 0-2 with a 7.08 ERA in his last four starts after going 4-2, 1.62 in his first seven.
Twins: Kyle Gibson gets the start for the Twins as they take on the Mariners at 6:10 p.m. CT. Gibson, who is 8-8 with a 3.98 ERA, is looking to bounce back from giving up six runs in each of his last two starts.
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